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”

Look Out the Left, the Captain Said: the Capture of Roman Protasevich

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Uncle Volodya says, “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”

Star bright, star bright, you got the lovin’ that I like;
Turn this crazy bird around…
Should not have got on this flight tonight

From “This Flight Tonight“, by Nazareth

For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.

Noam Chomsky, from ” Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World 

When news happens, there is a rush on the part of the press to get it out there, hopefully so that their paper or reporter is the one to bring it to you first. This race to be your headline eye-candy king is greatly simplified by having a preformed narrative bias – if we did it, or one of our close allies did it, it was either good or it was an honest mistake; you have to laugh, really, our intentions were so good and look how it turned out. If our enemies did it, or even those who are in arrears on their friendship dues, it’s because they are rotten to the marrow of their wicked bones, and of course there was the basest of evil intent behind it. The story almost writes itself, you just need to plug in a few assumed facts here and there, wind up with a bit of soulful off-the-cuff analysis, maybe a reasonably-safe prediction (“there will be consequences”, said a government source who cannot be named…), et voila!

I usually don’t like to do that. Well, partly it’s because I am often too busy to sit down and write the moment I hear something; I just don’t have the time. But also, I like to give it a couple of days – often, there are major changes in the original storyline, which I often heard entirely one side of anyway, and sometimes there is a complete and embarrassing reversal, in which I would have been complicit had I jumped on the bandwagon.

This story is not like that. There have been some major revelations and mitigations, but we are still left with a lot of questions. Let’s start out with what we know, or think we know. The description of events lifted straight from TASS seems to me to describe the ‘known knowns’ – to borrow from legendary cold warrior Donald Rumsfeld – as well as any I have seen, or at least it more or less encapsulates what I know;

Protasevich was detained on May 23. On that day, a Vilnius-bound Ryanair plane that took off from Athens made an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport after a reported bomb threat. After the landing, the plane was inspected and no bomb was found on board. Among the passengers on that flight was Protasevich who was wanted by Belarusian authorities. Protasevich was detained by law enforcement agents once the plane had landed in the Belarusian capital. Russian national Sofia Sapega was also detained together with him.

However, there is a great deal more to the story than that, and you can usually make a fairly safe bet that when an immediate western pile-on ensues – given its typically lackadaisical organization where domestic and international affairs are concerned – there is something about it that plays directly to its interests, rather than the non-partisan by-Jove-we-will-have-fair-play-wot-wot that it pretends.

And there was a lot of that; a lot of fist-shaking and blustering about ‘air piracy’ and ‘hijacking’, a lot of hyperbole by sources who would pretty much be living on government assistance programs if hyperbole was not allowed. Serial fabricator and English gasbag Luke Harding, for instance. He has more or less abandoned journalism altogether in favour of waiting for major events to fall in his lap, and simply stringing together a series of comments on them. Here’s a fine example:

Friends have wryly noted that the thunderous and very public manner of his arrest is in keeping with his outsized career and personality. “Everything he does is loud,” Nicolai Khalezin, who has known him for a decade, said. “The riot police came and arrested me. Roma got a fighter jet.”

Anyone with an ounce of journalistic integrity, and a brain that exceeded roughly the same deadweight, would know a couple of things which would have precluded putting one’s real name to such tosh. One, the riot police do not patrol or execute offsite arrests; they provide security at events which have the potential to turn into riots, and when they do, arrest people who showed up; therefore, Khalezin has attributed ‘came’ to the wrong authority. If he ‘came’ to a protest and it got out of hand, perhaps the riot police arrested him there. If he was arrested somewhere other than at such an event, it probably was not by the riot police. But that’s semantics. What I particularly wanted to point out is that escort of civil aviation which is making an emergency landing, owing to a potentially dangerous situation onboard, by a military aircraft is standard procedure since the momentous events of 9-11. The polite and peaceful Canadians go so far as to suggest sending two fighter planes is ‘an appropriate response’.

Maj. Holly Apostoliuk said NORAD officials don’t have time to verify a threat is genuine before responding. “Considering the time available when information is received about a potential threat to an aircraft, one does not have time for a full investigation, and neither would anyone want us to do so,” Apostoliuk told The Canadian Press. “The point is, based on the information, to do all we can to ensure a safe landing of the aircraft.”

Quite. This would seem to be affirmed by Air Traffic Organization policy guidance in the event of a bomb threat received while the aircraft is airborne.

  • When information is received from any source that a bomb has been placed on, in, or near an aircraft for the purpose of damaging or destroying such aircraft, notify the supervisor or facility manager. If the threat is general in nature, handle it as a suspicious activity. When the threat is targeted against a specific aircraft and you are in contact with that aircraft, take the following actions as appropriate:
    1. Advise the pilot of the threat.
    2. Report the threat to the Domestic Events Network (DEN) Air Traffic Security Coordinator (ATSC) via (202) 493-4170. If unable to contact the DEN ATSC notify the Transportation Security Administration/Transportation Security Operation Center (TSA/TSOC) directly at 703-563-3400.
    3. Ask if the pilot desires to climb or descend to an altitude that would equalize or reduce the outside air pressure/existing cabin air pressure differential. Obtain and relay an appropriate clearance considering minimum en route altitude (MEA), minimum obstruction clearance altitude (MOCA), minimum reception altitude (MRA), and weather.

NOTE − Equalizing existing cabin air pressure with outside air pressure is a key step which the pilot may wish to take to minimize the damage potential of a bomb.

    1. Handle the aircraft as an emergency, and/or provide the most expeditious handling possible with respect to the safety of other aircraft, weather conditions, ground facilities, and personnel.

NOTE − Emergency handling is discretionary and should be based on the situation. With certain types of threats, plans may call for a low-key action or response.

  1. Obtain and relay clearance to a new destination, if requested.
  2. When a pilot requests technical assistance or if it is apparent that such assistance is needed, do NOT suggest what actions the pilot should take concerning a bomb, but obtain the following information and notify the supervisor who will contact the DEN ATSC or TSA/TSOC as explained in a2 above.

Continue reading “Look Out the Left, the Captain Said: the Capture of Roman Protasevich”

Run Silent, Run Deep. But Not So Deep that the Halfwits Won’t Get It.

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

I crossed the ocean, where no one would see
And I put a time-bomb in your submarine;
Goodbye to old friends, the secret’s in hand
With phonied up papers, and counterfeit plans…

Alice Cooper, from “Halo of Flies

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Noel Langley, from “The Wizard of Oz

I’ve been wanting to get to this story for some time, but things – like work – keep getting in the way. I would have much preferred to get it out there while it was hot off the press: but even now that it has cooled a bit, it remains evident that western automatic disparagement of anything Russian has metastasized to the point that westerners dare not use a Russian-made spoon to eat their breakfast, lest it lunge at your face in its idiot violence and put your eye out. Russian policy is reckless and destructive, Russian-made coronavirus vaccines are just cheap weapons supporting its pursuit of linebacker diplomacy, and even the most innocent-appearing technology produced by the benighted country is infected with menace.

Consider Deutsche Welle‘s squeals of panic (actually, they are squealing in panic over a story which originally appeared in Bild, implying a general German-media panic) over the installation in German military vessels – even, ich kann es nicht glauben, submarines! – of Russian-built navigational aids. Sohn einer Hündin! What were the naval architects thinking?? Did they not realize the Russians build backdoors and exploitable vulnerabilities into the simplest devices, so that they can later make you chop your finger off, or drive into a wall or something??

The British press was quick to pick it up – absolutely unacceptable, old chap. Those systems must be ripped out as quickly as it can be carried out, and replaced with reliable NATO systems made by an honest western manufacturer.

The thing is, Transas – the maker of these Navaids (a portmanteu of ‘navigational aids’) – builds about 35% of the navigational systems used by world shipping, and about 45% of the trainers. The company was acquired by Wartsila of Finland in 2018, but the defense division remains Russian. It sounds to me as though the alarm was perhaps raised by some commercial entity which builds similar systems, and which would like to see its global market share rise by 35%. Continue reading “Run Silent, Run Deep. But Not So Deep that the Halfwits Won’t Get It.”

Doctor Politico, Reliable Journatard.

Uncle Volodya says, “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”

“We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.”

Carl Bernstein

Don’t wanna be an American idiot,
One nation controlled by the media;
Information age of hysteria…

Green Day, from “American Idiot

Is there, anywhere in the great trackless expanse of the internet, a pseudo-news site more gratuitously insulting, more deliberately offensive than Politico?

I have to say, the hysterical, grunting, wild-eyed hatred routinely on show there reminds me of La Russophobe in her prime. Its reliance on anyone who will say what it wants to hear reminds me of her sycophantic celebration of the ‘work’ of Paul Goble, deep thinker and self-confessed former CIA spook operating from darkest Taunton, Virginia. Once described by Mark Adomanis – remember him? Lithuanian by descent, referred to Edward Snowden as the worst kind of traitor until outed by a commenter as a former employee himself of Booz Allen Hamilton, the security consultancy which had employed Snowden – as ‘a whore who trawls through the lowest gutter press in Russia such as Novaya Gazeta, translates their articles and passes them off as analysis’. Anyway, the default mode at Politico is ‘unhinged’, while its agenda is as easy to see as a turd in a punchbowl, and about as edifying.

The example I’m most recently acquainted with is this hatchet job on Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Let me say up front that I am not a believer in any of the current magic vaccines, and am not interested in being vaccinated with any of them. However, this nakedly partisan attack is in a class by itself; over-the-top hyperbole that labels everything that comes from Russia a weapon. Let’s take a look.

The piece starts out neutrally enough, mentioning – accurately, enjoy it, because that might be the last time you see it for awhile – that the Russian vaccine was given the stamp of approval by The Lancet, Europe’s leading and most-respected medical journal. I would just point out here, in fairness, that The Lancet is as guilty of political bias as anything in print, and only last year was forced to withdraw its approval of a study which found hydroxychloroquine completely ineffective against the symptoms of coronavirus, and even hazardous to health. It transpired the study relied on a database which was mostly bullshit, and was overseen by a director at Brigham & Women’s Health Hospital which was at that time carrying out a trial of Remdesvir, hydroxychloroquine’s rival and a clear conflict of interest. As if that were not enough, America’s ‘leading infectious disease expert’, Dr. Anthony Fauci – living proof that if you claim every possible position on an issue, you are bound to be right on one of them – also piled on that no randomized, placebo-controlled studies have found hydroxychloroquine to be effective. For the record, it is possible if not probable that hydroxychloroquine’s studied efficacy was due to other factors. That does not change the fact that if Dr. Fauci told me my own name, I would check my driver’s license to make sure he was not lying.

Be that as it may, Politico quickly shifted into its customary sneering derision. It also wants you to know that Moscow ‘humiliated’ EU leader Josep Borrell when all he wanted to do was congratulate Russia on its success. In fact Borrell was in Moscow to talk about the Sputnik V vaccine, with a view to securing some doses for the EU. And if he had confined himself to that subject, he would have been warmly received. Unfortunately, he also wanted to shoot his European mouth off about ‘political dissident’ and ‘opposition leader’ Alexey Navalny, and to convey Europe’s absolute insistence that he be released ‘immediately and unconditionally’, which kind of smothered any possibility of cordiality from that moment on. Kind of like how if Lavrov visited Borrell in his native Spain, and ordered him to release Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras would go over among the Spanish.

Continue reading “Doctor Politico, Reliable Journatard.”

No Horizon So Far: the Future of Sino-Russian Commercial Aviation

Uncle Volodya says, “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”

“We swung over the hills and over the town and back again, and I saw how a man can be master of a craft, and how a craft can be master of an element. I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know – that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it.”

Beryl Markham, from “West with the Night”

“Well I can bend, but I won’t break;
‘Cause you ain’t got what I can’t take…”

Bryan Adams/Bonnie Raitt, from “Rock Steady”

Everyone still wants to talk about Navalny; the western press is full of blather and botheration about noble Navalny struggling against the monolithic and remorseless state; you would think nothing else was going on in the world. He’s not really very important, because – try as his western backers might to make a Robin Hood of him – most voting-age Russians regard him with disgust and boredom, and he likely could not get elected lifeguard in a car wash even if he could run for office, which he can’t because he is a convicted criminal. A convicted criminal who is likely to get a couple more convictions added on in the weeks to come, if you take my meaning. The Great Patriotic War, or what most of us know as the Second World War remains a seminal event in the minds of Russians who were alive when what is now the Russian Federation was the Soviet Union. As well it might – Soviet losses against Nazi Germany were more than 20 million people, far more than any other nation. Surviving veterans of that war are iconic even in a country which affords respect to military service in general, and considers it critical in such an unfriendly world. Navalny’s record of contempt for a Great Patriotic War veteran may have been his western-backed attempt to jolt Russians out of their reverence for the nation’s hard-won existence, and deprive them of a vital touchstone which welds the public into common sorrow and resolve on Victory Day. If so, it was a decisive failure, and Navalny’s rudeness and posturing have earned him widespread loathing in his own country; he is about as likely to get elected to any public office which requires the candidate to be voted in as he is to discover the secret of spinning straw into gold, like Rumpelstiltskin.

Yes, he is a jerk, my, my. But the thing about Navalny I wanted to mention – he and his portly roving operations manager, Leonid “Two-Tummies” Volkov – is their immediate reaction to Navalny’s arrest, which was foretold with about the same reliability as the sun rising in the east. Their “beam me up, Uncle Sam” cry for help was “more sanctions!!” Yes, let Navalny go, immediately and unconditionally, or the US-led west will impose further sanctions.

We’ve asked this question before – how’s that working out, do you think? Are western sanctions any closer to bringing Russia to its knees? Have they had any success – any success at all – at changing Russian behavior, in any way, to behavior the west regards with approval and a sense of accomplishment? Feel free to disagree with me, but I would have to say no. Is there anything to justify, do you think, the west’s faith in the potential of further sanctions to arrest or modify behaviors the west does not like? Again, I would have to say no. Why, then, does the west keep doing the same thing, and threatening more? I am at a loss to explain. If you were driving half-inch stakes into the ground for fence palings with a hammer, and every time you swung it you hit yourself in the balls with it, how many times would you try it before you gave it up? Until you were a eunuch?

Anyway, that’s enough of Navalny and his anarchic followers – suffice it to say that when Nadia Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot writes a fan song about your brave stand against the state, you have strayed far enough from statesmanship that you probably could not find your way back with a GPS. No, it was more the sanctions element I wanted to talk about than Navalny.

What Russia has learned from having sanctions leveled against it, and rolled over every six months like clockwork, is that it cannot depend on the west for any kind of commercial relationship. Europe continues to buy gas from Russia, and the USA stands on the sidelines and wrings its hands with anxiety but does not quite dare to forbid Europe’s purchase of Russian gas, because no other supplier has both the capacity and the infrastructure. But every other commercial commodity is carefully parsed for the degree to which Russia is dependent upon it, weighed against how much Europe would lose if it stopped selling it. Pretty much every time Europe has lost, as Uncle Sam squeezes it to cut off trade with Russia. The lesson, then, is that (a) Europe is spineless as a squid, and incapable of resisting American pressure, and (b) the USA is determined to push Russia off the map altogether, and will never relent so long as it has the power to continue trying. These two elements convince Russia that no agreement with the west is worth committing to paper, and that whatever Russia wants, it must make for itself or trade with alternative markets to purchase.

Continue reading “No Horizon So Far: the Future of Sino-Russian Commercial Aviation”

Trial by Blockhead

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Uncle Volodya says, “We become slaves the moment we hand the keys to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else, whether it is a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN.”

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

– Adolf Hitler

We’re going to do something just a bit different today; the event I want to talk about is current – in the future, actually – but the reference which is the subject of the discussion is almost a year old. and the event it discusses is coming up to its sixth anniversary. The past event was the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine, the future event is the trial in absentia of persons accused by the west of having perpetrated that disaster, and the reference is this piece, by Mark Galeotti, for the Moscow Times: “Russia’s Roadmap Out of the MH17 Crisis”.

You all know Mr. Galeotti, I’m sure. Here’s his bio, for Amazon:

“Professor Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at UMV, the Institute of International Relations Prague, and coordinator of its Centre for European Security. Formerly, he was Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and head of History at Keele University. Educated at Cambridge University and the LSE, he is a specialist in modern Russian politics and security and transnational organized crime. And he writes other things for fun, too…”

Yes, yes, he certainly does, as you will see. But this bio is extremely modest, albeit he most likely wrote it himself. Mr. Galeotti also authored an excellent blog, In Moscow’s Shadows, which was once a go-to reference for crime and legal issues in Russia, a subject in which he seems very well-informed. The blog is still active, although he seems mostly to use it now to advertise podcasts and sell books. That’s understandable – it’s evident from the blur of titles appended to his name that he’s a very busy man. Always has been, really; either as a student or an educator. He also speaks with confidence on the details of military affairs and equipment…despite never having been in the military or studied engineering; his education has pretty much all been in history, law or political science.

I know what you will say – many of the greatest reference works on pivotal battles, overall military campaigns and affairs were written by those who had no personal military experience themselves. Mr. Galeotti studied under Dominic Lieven, whose “Russia Against Napoleon” was perhaps the greatest work of military history, rich with detail and insight, that I have ever read. It won him the Wolfson prize for History for 2010, a well-deserved honour. Yet so far as I could make out, Mr. Lieven never served a day in uniform, and if you handed him an AK-47 and said “Here; field-strip this”, your likely response would be a blank look. He most certainly was not a witness to the subject military campaign. No; his epic work on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was informed by research, reading the accounts of others who were there at the time, poring over reams of old documents and matching references to get the best picture we have been afforded to date of Napoleon’s ignominious defeat through a combination of imperial overreach, a poor grasp of logistics and, most of all, resistance by an adversary who refused to be drawn into playing to Napoleon’s strength – the decisive, crushing battle in which the enemy could not retreat, and in which Napoleon would commit all the reserves and crush his enemy to dust. Continue reading “Trial by Blockhead”

It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.

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Uncle Volodya says, “If ignorance is bliss, there should be more happy people.”

“Do you remember that part, in the Wizard of Oz, when the witch is dead and the Munchkins start singing? Think that kind of happiness.”

Julie Mulhern, from “The Deep End”

The New York Times is unable to contain its glee at Russia’s having had to cancel its Victory Day celebrations. There was no end of negative press directed at Putin for having not yet announced postponement or cancellation, because it looked for a bit as if Russia was going to go for herd immunity rather than bringing everything to a grinding halt, and sequestering its terrified citizens in their homes as the west has done. But finally the number of Russian infections began to rocket encouragingly upward, and something had to be done. So it was lockdown, Victory Day postponed indefinitely, and the Times couldn’t be happier.

The Times has been going downhill at quite a clip ever since the mendacious aluminum-tubes nonsense in the runup to the American invasion of Iraq, and in fact the Times was an enthusiastic promoter of that war in general, swaddling itself in righteousness when serial liar Judith Miller went to jail rather than reveal her sources. It was a ‘proud but awful moment for The Times’, but heroine Miller ‘surrendered her liberty in defense of a greater liberty’. Give me a moment, will you? I want to put on some violins.

Ah, that’s better. Inspiring, thank you, Judith. But in the end the Times’ blubbering about greater liberty looked a lot more like a heartstrings strumfest in defense of telling outrageous lies that got thousands upon thousands of innocent people killed, brought out the very worst in Americans in the grimy corridors of Abu Ghraib, and left a country so battered, demoralized and divided that it has never recovered to this day.

The foregoing is simply a measure of how far the Times has fallen, from standard-bearer for journalistic excellence to liberal demagogue, not fit to wrap fish and chips in. And the unseemly sneering and giggling of the authors of the subject piece should be regarded with the same contempt which would surely be directed at Russians who cheered at Independence Day celebrations having to be canceled in the United States – stick your tailgate parties up your tailgate, Amerikanski! Continue reading “It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.”

Dmitry Rogozin; “I’m Afraid I’ll Look Like a Dick”

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Uncle Volodya says, “Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Issac Asimov

There’s a prejudice against making fun of the mad that spans all cultures, all ethnicities; mock the mentally ill at your peril, for some fair-minded citizen will surely intervene. Possibly many, enough to make you take to your heels, because those who were born without the ability to reason, or had it and lost it, are perhaps God’s most innocent children. There are few compensations for being born half-a-bubble off plumb, but one of them is anti-mockery armor. Having a laugh at the expense of the lunatic is bad form; something only dicks do, because it’s cheap and easy.

That’s what must be preventing Dmitry Rogozin from roaring with laughter; from falling helplessly to his knees and collapsing, wheezing, onto his side. If someone smart says something stupid, they are fair game. But laughing when someone whose openly-stated beliefs suggest they are suffering from dementia is inappropriate. His dilemma is both obvious, and acute – what to do?

First, some background; who is Dmitry Rogozin? A former Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Russian Federation’s defense industries, he also served as his country’s Ambassador to NATO. He has degrees in philosophy and technology, and currently serves as the Russian Federation’s Special Representative on Missile Defense. He is also the Director of Roscosmos, the Russian state’s Space Industry. Some have talked him up as a possible replacement for Vladimir Putin, as President of the Russian Federation, but it is in his latter capacity, head of Roscosmos, that we are most interested today. He knows more about rockets than that they are pointy at one end and have fire at the other, if you get my drift.

A bit more background, and then I promise we can begin to tie things together; I think I can also promise you are going to laugh. Not because you’re a dick. But I think you will find you do have to kind of snicker. Just be careful who hears you, okay? It’s not as much of an insult if people don’t know. Continue reading “Dmitry Rogozin; “I’m Afraid I’ll Look Like a Dick””

Where Are They Now? Ukrainian Patriot Edition.

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Uncle Volodya says, “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”

“Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.” 

Audre Lorde, from “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches”

Few exercises build perspective like reviewing the actions, approbations and forecast career trajectory of various socialites at the high point of their lives – or what one supposes to have been the high point; you never know – and their circumstances in the present. Sometimes it’s uplifting. Sometimes it’s humbling, or should be. And sometimes, especially in Ukraine, it highlights how certain characters are made prominent public figures despite their venal characteristics, snapping-turtle craziness or dangerous sociopathy, simply because they generated a lot of press in Russia and were perceived as being polarizing or otherwise undesirable figures in Russia. For their annoyance value, not to put too fine a point on it.

Nadiya Savchenko, for example. She was accused by Russia of acting as a spotter for Ukrainian artillery fire which killed two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine in June ofhttps://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/07/09/article-2686230-1F83233300000578-574_306x427.jpg 2014. Even now, her Wikipedia page remarks scornfully that she was ‘abducted from Ukraine’ an  hour before the journalists were killed, so somebody else must have dunnit. The celebrity-hungry British paragons of press quackery quacked endlessly about the ‘glamorous Ukrainian pilot’ who was a ‘role model for Ukrainian women’, featuring soft-focus cheesecake shots of her flawless complexion framed by a photoshopped pilot’s helmet (she actually did complete flight school and was qualified to fly aircraft, but the Ukrainian Air Force made her a helicopter navigator) and more or less uncritically rebroadcasting Ukraine’s position.

“‘By openly abducting citizens of Ukraine on the territory of their state, the Russian authorities not only violate all international norms but also exceed basic norms of decency and morality.’ Savchenko is regarded as a role model for women in Ukraine, having earlier served in Iraq in a peacekeeping mission. It is believed she was wounded in fighting before her alleged seizure by pro-Moscow fighters.” Truly heroic women always go down under a hail of bullets before the cretins who shot them capture them once they are too injured to defend themselves, after having fought like tigers. You know, like Jessica Lynch. Continue reading “Where Are They Now? Ukrainian Patriot Edition.”

The COVID-19 Propagandemic Express Rumbles Onward, Virtually Unopposed

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “There are only so many stories you can tell, but an infinite number of storytellers.”

“You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Revolt in 2100/Methuselah’s Children

I have sinned, Dear Father;
Father, I have sinned:
Try and help me, Father;
won’t you let me in?
Liar

– Queen, from “Liar”

I may have mentioned the Canadian newspaper The National Post previously – I know I have mentioned it numerous times in comments. It’s a fiercely conservative medium, and its columnists are mostly united in the belief that Canada died a little when Stephen Harper lost the 2015 election to those liberal pansies. I am almost positive I remember him once describing his (Conservative) party as ‘the Republican party of Canada’, perhaps making a joke, but I cannot find any record of it now. Whatever the case, there were plenty of other people ready to attribute the Republican label to him.

Just as an aside, this is not an indictment of Harper as Prime Minister. I didn’t care for his politics personally, but I don’t care for (present Prime Minister) Trudeau’s, either. The former resisted calls from bankers to deregulate at the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, and no matter what he might personally have wanted to do, it was the right decision; Canada emerged from the crisis with the strongest economy of the western nations. He was a staunch advocate for the military, in which I spent the best part of my adult life. All in all I could find little to personally complain about, except a general revulsion for conservative policies in general. Anyway, the purpose of this detour is to establish an alignment between Harper conservatives and the US Republican party, and by extension, an appetite on the part of National Post writers for conservative fiscal policies, foreign policies and leadership.

Including a visceral dislike – I would go so far as to say ‘hatred’ – of Russia and China, and tireless ridicule and scolding of those countries, as well as enthusiastic buy-in for any case made out against either or both. Would you like an example? Coming right up. Meet David J. Bercuson, a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and director emeritus of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. For those from Without – Calgary, Alberta is the very navel of conservatism in Canada. Mr. Bercuson’s piece is entitled, open-mindedly enough, “COVID-19 is bringing out the deceptive worst in Russia, China and Iran”.

He begins reasonably enough; Trump – yes, a Republican, but ideological conservatives often dislike him intensely – is full of shit when he refers to COVID-19 as ‘the Chinese virus’, something he only recently stopped doing, probably after being prompted by advisors. COVID-19 is not a Chinese weapon. Soothing bla bla bla…BANG! China, like all dictatorships, is covering up. It’s in their nature to lie to the west.

Ditto Russia, congenital liars, who are sowing discord through social media and frightening people with looney-tunes rubbish about COVID-19 being introduced to China by the US military. Continue reading “The COVID-19 Propagandemic Express Rumbles Onward, Virtually Unopposed”