How to Make a Brick from Straw and Bullshit.

Wink
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.”