Hey, Democracy! Why Do You Bother to Vote?

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Uncle Volodya says, “The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.”

“There are no nations, just large corporations
Flying the flag of the day;
From dawn of creation to civilization
Please don’t take my music away..”

From “Joe Fabulous“, by Bad Company

A quote which goes, “If voting actually made any difference, they wouldn’t let you do it” is often attributed – apparently incorrectly – to American humorist and author Mark Twain. Snopes doesn’t know who actually said it, or if anyone ever did, although there are various close versions. For instance, this rant by Robert S. Borden, from the Lowell Sun in 1976:

“Has it ever dawned on the editors that the attitudes of the 70 million projected non-voters may be very consistent with the reality that the concept of voting and electing representatives is basically dishonest and fraudulent? If voting could change anything it would be made illegal! There is no way any politicians can legally represent anyone because he was elected on a secret ballot by a small percentage of voters. He then claims to represent the people who voted against him and even those who wisely chose not to participate in such criminal activity.”

The sentiment was around long before 1976, so he certainly wasn’t the originator. But even without attribution, the notion that voting is just a pointless, slightly pathetic activity which provides the zealous and the patriotic with the illusion that their participation somehow informs and guides national leadership has been around for a long time, and has grown like jimson weed in the fertile ground of government brainlessness. More and more, the electorate is fed up with going dutifully to the polls, only to see another scion of a privileged family up there under the lights giving the clasped-hands victory sign. They see the national leadership forget all his/her promises before the air has even cooled where they were just standing, or within a couple of months when they acknowledge by God, it is going to be tougher than I thought.

Who would ever have imagined Justin Trudeau, poster-boy for quirky LGBTQ issues and social-justice causes – and eye-wateringly incompetent social-hand-grenade at everything else – would morph into an hysterical tyrant, yelling that you don’t have to get vaccinated, but don’t think that if you don’t, you will still be able to get on a plane or a train beside decent folks, and shed your COVID cooties all over them. All right, I might be paraphrasing a little. What he actually said wasIf you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s your choice. But don’t think you can get on a plane or a train beside vaccinated people and put them at risk!

As the author of the linked reference piquantly pointed out – how does your unvaccinated proximity threaten the vaccinated? If you are vaccinated, aren’t you immune?

Perhaps this would be a good place to highlight the CDC’s latest venture into revisionist history; I’m sure everyone recalls their earlier below-the-radar reinvention of ‘herd immunity’ so that the new text made no mention of the possibility it could be acquired through natural infection and recovery – nope, it was the product of vaccination. Well, they’ve done it again; this time, to ‘vaccine’. See if you can spot the difference. Old definition.

Vaccine: A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.

New definition.

Vaccine: A preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but some can be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.

Did you spot the difference? Yeah; a vaccine no longer has to confer ‘immunity’, only ‘protection’, which is open to a much greater degree of interpretation. Given it mitigates your symptoms if you do get infected, isn’t that ‘protection’? The brighter among you may have noticed the definitions of ‘vaccination’ and ‘immunization’ have also been modified to remove any reference to ‘immunity’. The buzzword now is ‘protection’.

Talking of the redefining of herd immunity, let’s just take a closer look at that. Because the government keeps holding out the prospect – if only a few more people will roll up their sleeves and take the gene-jab – as if it were a realistic goal. Is it? You tell me. I’ll let math-boy sum it up, because, as Geoffrey Rush said in the character of Cap’n Barbosa of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, there were a lot of big words in there; we’re nobbut ‘umble pirates.

“So, to achieve herd immunity we need to make sure that at least a proportion of $1-1/R_0$ of the population is immune. For an $R_0$ of 2.5, the higher end of the estimates for COVID-19, this means that we need to get at least a proportion of $1-1/2.5=0.6$ of the population immune. This translates to at least 60%…How do we do this? Well, ideally we would do it by vaccinating at least 60% of the population. In the absence of a vaccine, we can hope that this level of immunity will be achieved naturally, by people becoming sick and then immune. But because a lot of people die of COVID-19 we can’t just let the disease wash over the population, confident in the knowledge that more infections mean more immunity. “

Fair warning; the referenced site is sympathetic to herd immunity being achieved through vaccination, although at the time of writing, none was available. It has since become fashionable to pretend this is our goal through vaccinations, and that if some of those crackpot conspiracy-theorist anti-vaxxers would just think of their community for a minute, why, we’d be there. Continue reading “Hey, Democracy! Why Do You Bother to Vote?”

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”

Still Crazy, After All These Years – Western Analysis Continues to Get Russia Wrong

https://dakiniland.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/putin-wink.jpg
Uncle Volodya says; “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead.”

A world that sends you reeling from decimated dreams
Your misery and hate will kill us all
So paint it black and take it back
Let’s shout it loud and clear
Defiant to the end we hear the call…

My Chemical Romance, from, “Welcome to the Black Parade”.

Reading a recent comment which detailed the inexplicable and yawning gulf between the media-hyped love affair the west pursues with ‘poison victim’ Alexey Navalny, and his clownlike public image in Russia, it struck me that the situation is a microcosm of the larger deliberate misunderstanding with which western analysts regard Russia.

We’ve been over the credibility aspects before, in which the Anglosphere stubbornly maintains that Navalny was poisoned – most likely at Vladimir Putin’s direct order – with the most toxic and deadly nerve agent the world has ever seen, but will not share its proof with Russia. Navalny miraculously did not die, and now is feeling fine as frog hair and ready for the next stage in his job-free life. He is most likely going to be a long-term guest of the west – returning to Russia is not a viable option, as he is regarded as a criminal there – enjoying a comfortable lifestyle with his family which arises from his perceived status as ‘Putin’s fiercest critic’, and an important Russian opposition politician.

What immediately follows is a translation by Moscow Exile of this RIA Novosti article.

VTsIOM: Rating of Russians’ confidence in Navalny – 3%

A poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM) has shown an almost complete lack of confidence amongst Russians in the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK, non-profit foreign agent) Aleksey Navalny. The low rating is an indication of a failed media campaign to increase the popularity of the oppositionist with the participation of the West.

VTsIOM has published opinion poll data, relevant at the end of November 2020, as regards the measurement of the level of trust in the Russian public towards political figures and oppositionists. As part of the survey, it was established to whom the citizens of the Russian Federation would entrust the solution of important state issues. FBK founder Aleksey Navalny was included in the list of figures, the attitude towards whom sociologists were trying to find out. The poll showed that only 3% of Russians trust the oppositionist and are ready to entrust him with solving important state issues.

Personally, I am opposed to ongoing discussion of Navalny’s affairs, as continued mention of him only keeps him in the news and increases his exposure. However, I think it is fairly clear – if you believe this poll – that Navalny is not really taken seriously in Russia, and has no realistic chance of legitimately attaining any political role in that country. His name recognition may have greatly increased, but his forecast influence on national politics – should he be able to run for a political office – has not budged in ten years.

And therein lies the enigma. The western media persists in portraying Navalny as a political firebrand with a significant audience eager to hear his powerful message. He cannot be an object of mockery – an insignificant boob regarded by many Russians as a foreign agent of the western regime-changers. Therefore…the poll must be rigged!

Those in the west who are seriously committed to regime change in Russia should, by rights, be depressed at this – the overthrowing of Putin and his replacement by a progressive western-friendly liberal, who will deal the country away for a handful of magic beans, does not stand much chance so long as the dullwitted western public-at-large is determined to see a d’Artagnan in a doughhead. Not a bit of it – western think-tankers and analysts are among the most intoxicated optimists when it comes to seeing imminent collapse in Russia’s future, followed by a renaissance under an enlightened leader who will welcome western advice in building a dream country that will anchor a relationship in which freedom and democracy prevail. And, just incidentally, make western investors even more wealthy, even as it removes the next-to-last adversary on America’s must-go list. Western political and media investment in Navalny continues unabated.

Examples abound of this determined tunnel vision, a sort of self-medicated ecstasy in which judgment steps aside to permit fantasy to take the wheel. It hasn’t been that long since America’s ‘Russian athletes are brimming with performance-enhancing drugs’ campaign ran out of momentum, wobbled and collapsed in ignominy as reinstated medals , which had been stripped owing to accusations led by the USA, returned Russia to the head of the medals count. At the start of its run at Russia, the western investigatory commission claimed it had so much evidence of a state-sponsored Russian doping program it was…well, gosh darn it, it was embarrassing. Star-witness ‘whistleblower’ Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Russian anti-doping program, electrified the prosecution with his confident claims of proof beyond any doubt…and then disintegrated, during testimony, in a pants-wetting supernova of contradictory claims and unsubstantiated blather.

More recently, the entire underpinning of America’s Magnitsky Act collapsed like a house of cards when Bill Browder’s tax-fraud case against the Russian state was completely discredited after a nine-year investigation, and probably will be dropped for lack of evidence. Browder used tales of breathtaking financial impropriety as alleged motive for the death of his ‘tax lawyer’ – actually an accountant – Sergey Magnitsky, in a Russian prison. According to Browder’s story, Magnitsky was murdered to shut him up, so he could not tell what he knew about a Russian scheme to steal millions from investment taxes. The Swiss investigators found no evidence at all to support such claims, casting well-deserved doubt on the entire story Browder used to sell the discriminatory Magnitsky Act to the American government.

Western press consistently portrays Russia as floundering, flailing, thrashing to remain afloat against the brutal counterweight of sanctions which drag it down to the deeps. Yet its foreign cash reserves have returned to the peak they reached immediately before the global financial crisis of 2008/09, at nearly $600 Billion.

Russia Foreign Exchange Reserves

The government income ratio distributed to cash reserves has remained metronomic at 8% since 2019, and reflects the highest level achieved since that same global financial crisis in 2008/09.

Russia Cash Reserve Ratio

This is not a picture of a country struggling under a brutal dictatorship led by a thieving oligarch who salts away more billions of his country’s hard-earned money every year in secret accounts abroad which nobody can find any trace of. But the figures come from the Central Bank of Russia…so they’re probably made-up. As is, no doubt, the handling of government debt as a percentage of GDP since Satan’s Imp seized power in Russia in 1999.

Russia Government Debt to GDP

If only a popular people’s champion like Alexey Navalny could gather the reins of power into his steadfast hands. Then you’d see some progress that would make you blink.

Canada’s Mask-Mania Push Campaign – a Contrarian View

 

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Uncle Volodya says, “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it..”

Unless you live under a rock in a thinly-settled part of the world, you are probably familiar with the global government embrace of non-medical cloth or paper face masks. Government medical authorities claim they help prevent infection by the novel coronavirus, AKA COVID-19, and busybodies and social interventionists everywhere are getting increasingly exasperated with the now-minority that will not wear them whenever they leave their homes, get with the fucking program and start caring about their community.

I can’t speak for everywhere, but let me tell you a little bit about how this push campaign is going in Canada. My part of it, anyway.

In the early stages of what it pleases the global political leadership to refer to as a ‘pandemic’, there was a reluctance to endorse masking. The WHO released confusing and conflicting information. The famous Dr. Fauci, who throws a baseball like an undernourished schoolgirl trying to rid herself of a live lizard, initially remarked that there was absolutely no reason for anyone who was not clearly sick to wear a face mask. He later reversed himself, admitting he only said that so panicky people would not run out and buy up all the face masks and there would not be a sufficient supply for the ‘frontline medical workers’. Lied, I guess you would have to say, if you didn’t realize what a visionary and farseeing altruist he is, and didn’t know – because he told you – that he was only doing it for our own good.

But I don’t want to get too distracted by Dr. Fauci, as I mean to turn attention to a more local source. Chris Pengilly, a retired GP, is representative of the Frustrated Class that smirks at the reasons the minority offers for not wearing a face mask in public. I think you’ll agree his tone is the sort of condescending dismissal which might be reserved by a John Deere dealership for a farmer who still plows with a mule – some people just don’t get it the way us smart folk do. Let’s take a look.

Right off the bat, Mr. Pengilly wants you to know that he approves the use of face masks, and believes their wear will soon become compulsory, as if that were reason enough for doubters to line up for them. Not to be a spoiler or anything, but let me say here that a government order to wear face masks in all public spaces is an invitation to a constitutional challenge and a major lawsuit. Why? Because there is no actual scientific evidence that they do anything at all to prevent infection by an airborne virus. None. Continue reading “Canada’s Mask-Mania Push Campaign – a Contrarian View”

The Near-Global Collapse of Critical Thinking

Uncle Volodya says, “When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false.”

“Every ounce of my cynicism is supported by historical precedent.”

– Glen Cook, Shadow Games

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.”

– George Bernard Shaw

I’m lazy. But vanity constrains me from admitting that, so I call it ‘busy’. However I choose to label it, I haven’t written anything new in a long time. It’s not writer’s block, because I had a couple of topics in mind; if I had to blame it on anything, I’d blame it on the comments section. We don’t really have any rules here, or not many (there are a couple of people who can’t comment, but that’s because they cannot be trusted to not instantly return to old habits as soon as they are allowed), and things routinely drift off-topic to whatever is going on at the time. Current events; yes, that’s the term I was looking for. So when new things are happening, we tend to discuss them in the comments section, instead of my writing a new post dedicated specifically to that issue. It’s the primary cause, I’m afraid, of important comments you would like to be able to locate because they contain hard-to-find sources or just the information you need to settle an argument, because they are not linked by subject. Obviously I prefer the unregulated format, or I wouldn’t use it, but it does have its disadvantages.

Anyway, the silver lining that comes with being late to discuss a particular current event is that you get to talk about the filtered version, after the ferment has settled down and often new facts have presented. So it is with the teapot tempest of Alexei Navalny, vaulted to international fame virtually overnight by becoming the latest victim poisoned by nefarious Soviet-era deadly nerve agents that, in their known application, have a success rate of 16.67%. A funny statistic has emerged from the absurd times we are living in – a viral infection, the ‘novel coronavirus’, more commonly called COVID-19, has the world shivering with terror like frogs in a glass cage with a big snake, even though its Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) compares with the annual influenza bouts we have lived with all our years. Yet an engineered nerve agent reputed to be ten times as deadly as the most toxic poison the west could come up with – one which, I might add, has a known survivor list among the exposed of zero point zero – has never killed the individual it was intended to kill, and managed to incidentally slay one innocent bystander who was also an alcoholic and drug abuser. As John Lennon remarked in “Nobody Told Me”; strange days indeed. Most peculiar, Mama.

I meant to do a post on Navalny – more correctly, my patience with the ridiculous statements made about his latest adventure finally evaporated – after reading this amazingly cheeky tapestry of fabrication; “The Kremlin, predictably, says it didn’t poison Alexey Navalny. So what can the West do?”

I looked it up so as to have an electronic link, so readers could get the full effect. But I initially saw it in the newspaper, the Canadian Globe & Mail (British Columbia edition), in which it was headlined a little differently – “Why nobody has power to make Kremlin come clean on poisoning”. So far as I can make out on initial examination, the body of the article is unchanged. Both pieces – well, the same piece with two different headlines – are by Mark MacKinnon, who is The Globe & Mail‘s senior international correspondent, based in London, UK. He’s quite highly-regarded by his employers, is a seven-time winner of the National Newspaper Awards (for creativity, perhaps, although they don’t say), and the author of…”The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics“. Gee, that sounds like it might be about a particular country; let’s have a dekko at the writeup.

“When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, liberal democracy was supposed to fill the void left by Soviet Communism. Poland and Czechoslovakia made the best of reforms, but the citizens of the “Evil Empire” itself saw little of the promised freedom, and more of the same old despots and corruption. Recently, a second wave of reforms — Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine in 2004, as well as Kyrgyzstan’s regime change in 2005 — have proven almost as monumental as those in Berlin and Moscow. The people of the Eastern bloc, aided in no small part by Western money and advice, are again rising up and demanding an end to autocracy. And once more, the Kremlin is battling the White House every step of the way. Mark MacKinnon spent these years working in Moscow, and his view of the story and access to those involved remains unparalleled. With The New Cold War, he reveals the links between these democratic revolutions — and George Soros, the idealistic American billionaire behind them — in a major investigation into the forces that are quietly reshaping the post-Soviet world.”

Because western-imposed liberal democracy has been such a star-speckled success in so many places – Libya. Iraq, Venezuela…anyway, the above author information is offered to sort of set the tone for the type of worldview you might expect. And to introduce a premonition, before you even read his material, that Mark MacKinnon just might be exactly the sort of guy who would smirk with revulsion at the mention of Putin’s name, and have a big ol’ man-crush on Alexei Navalny. I’m not implying anything untoward, here; Mr. MacKinnon is a realist. An ideologue, yes, but a realist. Continue reading “The Near-Global Collapse of Critical Thinking”

The Ceaseless Lies of Eva Bartlett; or, The Partisan Scrubbing of Western Consciousness.

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Uncle Volodya says, “The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena.”

“Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, gossip is called news, and auto-tune is called singing.”

Criss Jami, from “Killosophy”

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

Noam Chomsky, from “Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda”

I don’t think you would get anywhere by arguing that living in a democracy means your leaders always tell you the truth – and let you and your fellow voters decide, based on that truth, whether you want to go further down the road under their leadership or come to a parting of the ways, and go forward without them. There is no written promise that leaders will not lie, just as there is no statement of ethics which forbids a free press from lying to its readers, whether deliberately or because it was itself deceived by liars.

Nonetheless, the obvious repugnance and disgust expressed by generations of western journalists for the manipulative propaganda of Nazi poster-boy Goebbels and the overly-motivational exhortations of the Communist Soviet Union’s five-year planners strongly suggested the west at all levels disapproves of lying in order to manipulate public perception.

Can we agree, then, that western philosophy – by which I mean the propounded creed of NATO and various western temporary and semi-permanent alliances over the years since the Second World War – encourages a belief that the creation and dissemination of propaganda is wrong? That western journalism strives for an impression that propagandists are also liars, and that an informed populace can handle the truth?

That’s pretty much what I thought. Continue reading “The Ceaseless Lies of Eva Bartlett; or, The Partisan Scrubbing of Western Consciousness.”

How to Make a Brick from Straw and Bullshit.

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Uncle Volodya says, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

“If you would have a boy to despise his mother, let her keep him at home, and spend her life in petting him up, and slaving to indulge his follies and caprices.”

Anne Brontë, from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”

“In any epoch the difference between a rabble and an army is training, which was not bestowed on foot soldiers called up by the arrière-ban. Despised as ineffective, they were ineffective because they were despised.”

Barbara W. Tuchman, from “A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century”

Poor Britain. Since the ignominious crumbling of its empire it has craved to be globally relevant. as it once was when it brought English civilization to the unruly and wild places of the earth with mace and halberd. In its more recent incarnation, it drifts about the periphery of great happenings like a resentful ghost; yearning to dominate, but able to broadcast only the memory of its great power. Increasingly, in its jiggling impatience to be noticed and respected, it attaches itself to the United States like a remora to the lower jaw of a cruising shark. The ‘special relationship’ might just be the sole truly symbiotic partnership in existence, or perhaps is the best modern example of it – an English accent makes Americans swoon with admiration for its implication; generations of refinement in ancient halls of academia such as formed Byron and Shelley, while Britain gets the vicarious thrill of holding America’s coat as it corners some poor fool and beats the shit out of him.

Consider the example of former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. More specifically, his recent opinion piece for The Independent, “Russia’s grip on Europe is gradually tightening – we can’t wait for the next attack to do something about it” (thanks to Moscow Exile for the link).

The Independent, of course, is owned by former Russian billionaire oligarch, KGB agent and later FSB agent Alexander Lebedev and his son, Evgeny. The British are nothing if not fair – Russian oligarchs who are said to be close to the current government of the Russian Federation are vile as raw sewage, and make the British gnash their teeth and shake their fists with disgust and rage: but Russian oligarchs who have brought their money to Britain to invest and spend are absolutely top-hole. Nothing subversive and shifty about them.

With that, let’s see what Mr. Straw had to say. Continue reading “How to Make a Brick from Straw and Bullshit.”

The Baker of Maidan Square Serves Up Another Delicious Puffy Treat

The Baker
It’s all a balancing act of time, temperature and ingredients. That’s the secret to baking.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly-flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”

M.F.K. Fisher

“Anarchy is like custard cooking over a flame; it has to be constantly stirred or it sticks and gets heavy, like government.”

Tom Robbins, from “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”

Victoria Nuland has kept a comparatively low profile since her part in the still-unfolding grotesque failure to mastermind Ukraine, at America’s intervention, into a ‘prosperous western-leaning market democracy’ at Europe’s expense. She made a cameo appearance, smiling and nodding and handing out bread and buns to the revolutionaries at the ‘Euromaidan’ on Kiev’s Independence Square, and almost immediately thereafter was recorded in the act of colluding with United States Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt to hand-pick the incoming revolutionary government. The EU was a bunch of twittering incompetents who would never get anything done, so fuck them – America would show them how to grease the guillotine with the fat of tyrants. Then she appeared in a Chevron-sponsored press conference for the National Press Club, at which she was a guest speaker, and announced that since 1991 the United States had invested $5 Billion in ‘democracy promotion’ in Ukraine. I had to listen to nearly the whole speech to verify that fact was in there, through exhortations that the hand-picked-by-America revolutionary government constituted the ‘principles and values that are the cornerstones of all free democracies’, but when she got to the part about how she had personally ‘witnessed the appalling violence when Yanukovich turned his riot police on demonstrators as they sang hymns and prayed for peace’, my stomach revolted and I nearly blew chunks over my monitor. Dear God. I guess a saucepan for your head and a club studded with nails are important accessories for demonstrators these days when they know they’re going to be singing hymns and praying for peace.

Anyway, shortly after that debacle, she shuffled off to her coffin full of graveyard dirt in the basement, and stayed away from sunlight. She only recently emerged, and the alert eye of reader rkka spotted her delightful piece for Foreign Affairs magazine, entitled “Pinning Down Putin; How a Confident America Should Deal With Russia”.

In fact, it’s worth including rkka’s take on it, upon having read it.

“She laments how Vladimir Putin has for twenty years repeatedly slapped away Uncle Sam’s extended open hand, offered in the purest desire for friendship with Russia…She does admit one US mistake, tearing up the ABM Treaty in 2002, but the rest of it is one long whine about Putin.

Her policy prescription: spend uncountable trillion$ the US has to borrow building up US military capability, unify all NATO allies to resist disinformation, hold up the renewal of the new START Treaty conditioned on Russian concessions on Russia’s short & medium range nuclear strike systems & new conventional capabilities, forge a united NATO & EU front on Ukraine with the US participating in the negotiations, and then offer a future Russian government a return to non-substantive participation in Western institutions like the G-7 and NATO-Russia Council as well as a few miniscule economic inducements…In other words, the same offer to Soviet/Russian leaders since Brezhnev: major substantive Soviet/Russian concessions in return for vague assurances of future Western goodwill.”

Having read the piece myself, I frankly doubt I can do any better than that, but I’d like to go over it anyway, because I would like to examine some aspects of it in considerably greater detail. Continue reading “The Baker of Maidan Square Serves Up Another Delicious Puffy Treat”

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

Wink
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.”