Streetwise Professor

January 31, 2022


Filed under: CoronaCrisis,Politics — cpirrong @ 7:28 pm

Back in the 1970s, truckers were the avatars of freedom and the personification of popular resistance against petty, unreasoning, power-mad authority. The spirit was expressed in the film Convoy:

and the song of the same title.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, we are having another 70s flashback. An immense, well, convoy of truckers from across Canada has swarmed the country’s capital of Ottawa. The immediate cause of their protest is the government’s mandating of vaccines for all truckers entering Canada. But really the trucks are carrying the accumulated discontents of many with all policies COVID, which are especially onerous in Canada. (Recall my Anglosphere post of some months back: Canada has been competing with Australia and New Zealand for the Commonwealth COVID Fascism Cup, the UK having recently dropped out of the competition.)

The Canadian government, and its obnoxious premier Justin Trudeau in particular, are absolutely losing their shit over this. Trudeau has repeatedly slandered the protesters in a way that he never would have dreamed with, say, BLM protesters even though the latter did commit violence and destruction on Canadian streets and the truckers have been firm but peaceful and polite.

Some Trudeau tweets:

Trudeau has also said that the protesters are a “small fringe minority” with “unacceptable views” and that “what we are hearing from some people associated with this convoy is completely unacceptable.”

Hey, boy–and I do mean boy–if it’s such a small fringe, how come you are so scared of it? So scared that you were whisked to an “undisclosed location.” (Hey, I thought that was Dick Cheney’s job!) So scared that you claimed that you had to go into isolation because you’d been exposed to COVID, therefore conveniently preventing you from addressing the protests publicly (where, no doubt, you would be booed heartily).

That’s why it’s more than hilariously ironic that you call on people to “be courageous,” pantywaist that you are. Yeltsin on a tank, you ain’t. You are a complete and utter wuss who is apparently so lacking in confidence in your ability to persuade and so devoid of testicular fortitude that you run away and slander.

Those truckers are dynamite!

And the irony of your injunction to “speak out” is also too much. Yeah, be brave, people! Speak out! Except about any government policy that one doesn’t like, such as vaccine mandates. Then, if you do speak out, you are expressing “unacceptable views” and you must shut up or be repressed.

So Trudeau’s Canada again imitates Holy Grail:

“Will you shut up!?!?” Justin couldn’t have said it better himself.

Also note the typical statist MO here. Trudeau and his creatures in the government and media (including the US media) are focusing obsessively on extremely isolated incidents of allegedly hateful statements and symbols (e.g., a Confederate flag) said or displayed by the truckers, and using this to tar the entire movement. This is a typical, and typically dishonest tactic. Also, given the prominence given to these episodes in government propaganda, do not discount–at all–the possibility that some of them are government created. Literal false flags, as it were.

Justin Trudeau is a loathsome little twat who wet himself with excitement about COVID presenting an opportunity to “reset” the entire world economy and society:

The only thing the Davos crowd probably found objectionable to Trudeau’s remarks is that he said them so openly, lest they bring unwanted attention to their grand scheme.

Trudeau is of a type and there are many like him in power around the world. He particularly reminds me of California governor Gavin Newsom. In this I am not alone. A friend said that Trudeau and Newsom were created in the same lab. To which I added: “Yes. By Klaus Schwab.”

There is talk of a similar convoy in the United States. I hope so. To put our not-so-fearless “leaders” on the spot. To force them to make plain their utter hypocrisy: the will no doubt scream “extremists” and “coup” even though the protests will be peaceful, in stark contrast to their endorsement of violent and destructive protests in 2020.

And to force them to be accountable for two years of disastrous COVID policies. Vaccine mandates are the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the grievances go far deeper than that, and stretch back for two whole years.

There are some who believe that the official COVID narrative, and the policies that narrative justified, are crumbling. Some countries, notably Denmark, have thrown in the towel and abandoned almost all restrictions, and have effectively stated that vaccines are ineffective. The UK has gone almost as far.

I am not so sanguine that this will spread. Too many governments are too invested in the narrative, and too intoxicated by the power that they have seized under the guise of public health to give it up willingly. Note that Trudeau has doubled down despite being confronted with the most robust protests in the world. France and Germany and other countries have been equally truculent in dealing with their disgruntled citizens.

But although pressure like the convoy in Canada may not be sufficient to end the tyranny, it is necessary. So by all means, let the example spread, to the US to the world. And do your part. Take L’il Justin’s advice! Speak out. Oppose the repression. Engage in peaceful civil disobedience when you can. Support those who are subject to attack for speaking out. By doing so, we might, just might, restore freedom and civil society, and topple tyrants.

January 30, 2022

Random Thoughts on Ukraine

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 5:36 pm

What’s a dog that hasn’t barked during the Ukraine situation? Think for a minute.

Answer: the UN.

Think back to Gulf Wars I and II. The UN was the cockpit of much diplomatic wrangling. The focal point of most negotiation. Further, the US, and other western countries in 1990/1991 and the UK in 2002/2003, went to considerable lengths to win UN approval. Remember the late Colin Powell’s infamous aluminum tubes presentation to the UN in 2003?

The refrain was that any action in Iraq would be illegitimate without UN approval. So the US repeatedly sought it.

Now, the UN is totally MIA with regards to Ukraine. Putin obviously feels no obligation to go to it, hat in hand as the US did. The US and others obviously believe that it is irrelevant, and any appeal to it futile, not least because Russia can veto any resolution. But most striking is the fact that those who preached about the vital importance of the UN as the determinant of the legitimacy of an international conflict are completely silent. Apparently they (and their intellectual successors) realize that it can only be manipulated against the West generally, and the US in particular. Or more pointedly, that they are only interested in manipulating it against the West generally, and the US in particular. For all their hosannas to the UN, they obviously only care about it when it can be enlisted against the US. Lilliputians to tie down Gulliver. Otherwise, it is an irrelevance.

Which is what conservatives have been saying forever.

Not a big deal, but worth noting.

Speaking of the Iraq wars, I wonder whether Putin is weighing their biggest lesson (especially the 2003 war). Overwhelming military advantage and a lightning conventional operational victory do not necessarily translate into strategic gain, and indeed, may create a strategic ulcer that ends in if not ultimate defeat, a hollow and costly triumph.

One of the contemporary criticisms of US strategy in Iraq was an alleged failure to commit enough troops to the occupation, which allowed anti-US elements (Islamists, former regime personnel, Shiite militias) to consolidate and gain control of parts of Iraq. That was at least a choice for the US. At the time it had the resources to do it, but deliberately chose otherwise.

Russia, in contrast, almost certainly lacks the manpower and fiscal wherewithal for an occupation of even a large portion of Ukraine, let alone all of it, especially if there is even a modicum of organized resistance. You don’t need an entire nation in arms, a la Spain v. Napoleonic France. Just enough of it.

Ukraine is not Iraq, and in particular it is unlikely that there are elements as numerous, vicious, and determined as those in Iraq (or in Spain circa 1812). But even if resistance does not reach that level, it is doubtful that Russia has the resources to crush it. This would leave it in a situation analogous to the US in Iraq. “Mission accomplished,” but actually not, and saddled with occupation of a corrupt and dysfunctional country. Look at Donetsk and Luhansk, and then extend that to any other portions of Ukraine that Putin might decide to absorb.

If Putin is a realist he will recognize this. But he may not be. He may believe that Russia can avoid the mistakes of the US in Iraq, or that Ukraine will be so inert that a long commitment will be unnecessary.

Not knowing what he thinks about this is one reason we cannot know what he will do with any confidence.

A last note on Ukraine. Last week Biden spoke with Zelensky, and the Ukrainians said the call “did not go well.”

Color me shocked!


The post-call media coverage was bizarre. CNN reported that Biden had told Zelensky that invasion was imminent and Kiev would be “sacked.” (A la the Mongols in 1240?) Then that story was pulled and denied. Zelensky basically said “chill, bro. WTF are you talking about?” Then he made more pointed criticisms, saying that he was president of Ukraine so he kinda knows more of what is going on in Ukraine that anybody else (where the clear implication was that “anybody else” is commonly known as “Brandon”).

What a farce. The US (and to some degree) the UK is playing Chicken Little and those upon whom the sky is supposed to fall are not nearly so alarmed. If they are alarmed but playing it cool, well good for them. The US would do well to imitate.

Zelensky’s put down of Biden clearly got the White House’s panties in a wad. The pissy little bitches replied thus:

In other words: “Zelensky is a hypocrite for downplaying the threat and asking for weapons. How dare he break ranks with us and make us look bad in public, the ingrate.”

Perhaps somebody should get the National Security staff some Keep Calm and Carry On mugs. And some decaf to put in them.

Also, somebody should tell presidents not to have phone calls with Ukrainian presidents. They don’t end well.

The hysterical American rhetoric cannot be constructive. It is not unreasonable to conjecture that the administration wants the conflict to go hot. They are telling the Ukrainians: “Let’s you and him fight,” and are getting irritated that the Ukrainians are not obliging.

What could be the motive for such actions? There are many. One is evoked by a passage from Henry IV Part 2, in which Henry IV reconciles with Prince Hal and gives him advice:

My Harry

Be it thy course to busy giddy minds

With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out,

May waste the memory of the former days.

The “former days” that Henry IV was referring to were the troubled times of his reign, which were beset by domestic struggles and division–due to his dubious legitimacy (wink wink, nudge nudge). Wag the Dog predates 1998, and Biden is beset by domestic struggles and division.

Although the idea may be tempting (not so much to Biden, in his current mental state, but to his minions), it would be an immense mistake that would inevitably multiply his troubles rather than calm them. So just as if Putin is thinking that an adventure in Ukraine would bolster his status at home but well could be disappointed, Biden (or his minions who actually make the decisions) would almost certainly face a similar fate.

January 23, 2022

Jordan Peterson, Vaclav Havel, and the Power of the Powerless in an Age of Covid

Filed under: History,Politics — cpirrong @ 6:50 pm

Jordan Peterson has resigned his tenured position at the University of Toronto. Peterson provides an explanation of his decision in this long article in Canada’s National Post. I will not excerpt: I strongly recommend you read it in full.

I concur 100 percent with Peterson, especially in his dissection of modern academia in its current diseased–and probably fatally diseased–state. I often say that I am glad I am getting old, and on the downslope of a long academic career. I can’t imagine beginning an academic career today. Indeed, I can’t imagine that I would choose to embark on one–or that I would even be given the opportunity, given my various disqualifications (most of which are utterly out of my control). It’s been a great run, but the devil take the hindmost. (And he is doing so, as Peterson describes.)

Peterson’s diagnosis that the rot extends far beyond academia–and to the corporate world in particular–is also spot on.

It is indeed a dreary picture. What stands out most is the endemic dishonesty. Or more accurately, the assertive belief that honesty and truth are fictions, and the war on anyone who dissents from this smelly orthodoxy. We live in an Orwellian world, and academia and corporations are on the cutting edge of it.

The friend who alerted me to Peterson’s article asked me how will this all play out? How can we live in a world built on lies? How will we defeat it?

I responded that the best model (best in the sense of most accurate, not most desirable) is life in the USSR or the post-War Soviet Bloc. A life in which an official line is vigorously–indeed, viciously–enforced and that independent thought is relentlessly suppressed. A life in which many ordinary people cooperate with–often gleefully–with authorities to point out and punish wrongthink.

In such a world, people develop split personalities. Preference falsification is rampant. People realize they are being lied to incessantly in matters large and small. They also realize that pointing out the lies draws brutal retaliation. Loss of jobs. Loss of friends. Cancellation. Social death. Or worse. So they repeat the official mantras in public, or remain mulishly silent, and hate themselves in private for doing it. At most they communicate their recognition of the absurdity through indirect forms of humor. They limit honesty only to the most trusted.

And that is one of the most devastating effects. The need to be extremely guarded atomizes society: who can you trust, actually? Very few. And betrayal inevitably occurs, because the relentless pressure of the system incentivizes it.

Perhaps the best description of this dystopia is Vaclav Havel’s 1978 essay The Power of the Powerless. Havel described how oppressive systems are morally corrupting, and force those who dissent perforce construct inner personal spheres of honesty and truth and outer spheres of dissimulation. True believers and opportunistic lackeys enforce the party line: out of self-preservation the intellectually honest give superficial assent, but privately–usually very privately–dissent. Knowledge that the tall stalks fall to the scythe leads all but the bravest to lay low. And all the time the honest wonder how many others share their disgust. And they keep wondering because the entire system is optimized to make it impossible to know. Silence begets ignorance begets silence.

It is a grim world. A world antithetical to humanity and human development.

The only reason for optimism is that eventually the internal contradictions of a system built on lies become so obvious that everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone knows . . . that the system has failed. The mechanism of preference falsification breaks down, and mass dissidence spontaneously breaks out.

A system of lies cannot live forever.

Alas, as the experience of Russia especially, but much of the Soviet Block as well, demonstrates is that even after the House of Lies falls, much damage has already been done. Social trust destroyed is not easily restored. Longstanding habits of suspicion of institutions and other people are not readily transformed.

We are not in Havel’s Prague circa 1978. Yet. But we are on the road to it. Academia is furthest along that road, as Peterson describes in detail. But COVID–or more accurately, governments’ responses to the (to them) heaven-sent disease–has accelerated the pace of the journey for the populace at large. The poison of lies–official lies–has seeped into every cell of the body politic. The official enforcement of lies–with the eager cooperation of a disturbing number of our supposedly fellow citizens–becomes more intense as the falsity becomes more apparent. Continued compliance with the COVIDicracy will only cement our fate. Non-compliance and dissent now is our last, best hope.

January 20, 2022

Joe Biden Just Raised the Risks of the Wrong War, In the Wrong Place, at the Wrong Time

Filed under: China,History,Military,Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 4:45 pm

In January, 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson gave a speech outlining the US’s security perimeter–and conspicuously excluded South Korea. Within 5 months, with Stalin’s blessing, North Korea invaded. The opening stages of the Korean War were an absolute military disaster for the US. The rest of it wasn’t great shakes.

Yesterday Biden sent a similarly equivocal signal to Putin on Ukraine, insinuating that Russia had Biden’s blessing to invade Ukraine. As long as the invasion isn’t too big! Whatever that means. The administration then attempted to clean up this shocking statement by saying that any incursion would bring a strong US response. (Cleaning up after Biden is akin to cleaning up after a Barnum and Bailey Circus parade.)

There are war hawks in the US who want to confront Russia militarily if Putin does cross the border, bigly or otherwise–as Biden arguably just invited him to do. This is absolutely insane.

Look at the “correlation of forces.” It decidedly favors Russia. This is especially true in the air, where absent Nato intervention Russia will have not just air superiority but air dominance from the get go.

Yes, the one realistic way that Nato could materially contest a Russian invasion would be by pitting its air forces against Russia’s. (It’s capability on the ground is essentially nil.) It could probably do so decisively. But for what? And assuming it did achieve control of he air, would Nato use air power against Russian ground forces? Logistic resources within Russia? If not, could they change the result on the ground, other than make Russia’s task bloodier and harder? Almost certainly not. When it becomes evident that putative control of the air would not likely change the end result on the ground absent further action, wouldn’t the inexorable logic of conflict push the US/Nato to attack Russian troops and logistics from the air?

Any of these alternatives would bring the US and Nato into direct conflict with Russia where the potential for escalation in many dimensions is high. And again, for what? What American interest (or Nato interest for that matter) is advanced by contesting Russia for Ukraine? Is there any benefit remotely worth the risk of a war, let alone one between nuclear powers that could escalate? I cannot think of any, and those advocating a military response to a Russian invasion have certainly not advanced any.

And it must be emphasized that this would be the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The main beneficiary of which would be China. A futile attempt to save Ukraine would expose the US and its allies to risks of bigger losses in Asia.

Ukraine’s operational situation is dire, and becoming more so. In particular, as if the overmatch wasn’t already severe enough, recent Russian movements in Belarus pose a severe threat. A movement into Ukraine from Belarus would outflank the country’s one major geographic obstacle–the Dnieper (defending which would already concede loss of a third of the country). Ukraine’s only real chance is to hold the Dnieper–and even that would probably require US/Nato involvement. An attack from Belarus would eliminate even that chance.

A Korea outcome is probably the best the US could gain. And again for what? And at what cost, in blood, treasure, and strategic compromise in other theater?

The latest brilliant idea is for Ukraine to wage a guerrilla war against Russian invaders. There are stories circulating that the CIA is helping train organize such resistance, and Canadian special forces who could also do that are in country.

Yes, it took the USSR a decade to restore full control of Ukraine after WWII. And the Russian Civil War in Ukraine was brutal and multi-sided, with Reds v. Whites v. Greens. So it is possible that a Russian occupation could be bloody and costly. Would Putin be deterred by that? Is it worth running the risk of turning Ukraine into Syria or Libya to find out? Would that be better than Russian domination of Ukraine? Yes, Putin is an autocrat, but he isn’t Hitler or Stalin, and Russia isn’t the USSR.

And again, for what?

This is a completely unforced error. Regardless of whether you think Putin is genuinely fearful of Nato incorporating Ukraine, or whether that is just a convenient excuse for him to advance his imperial project, there was never any reason to bring Ukraine into Nato and thereby increase greatly the risk of confrontation. As I’ve said before, its inclusion raises the risk of conflict and detracts from rather than adds to Nato capability.

By dangling this as a possibility, the US and Nato predictably triggered a reaction that leaves them with the unpalatable choice of fighting a war over a country that is not vital to their interests or looking feckless and duplicitous by dangling the prospect of protection and then shrinking from providing it. It also provides Putin with a pretext to challenge all of Nato’s earlier eastern expansion. This juncture would never had been reached had the US and Nato not made promises that were never in its interest to keep. But they did, and that has put them in this dilemma.

My main fear at present is that Biden (or those who are actually making the decisions) will feel compelled to be butch and commit the US to a conflict involving such a huge asymmetry between gains and losses. Hell, even “winning” would involve more loss than walking away would.

How will it play out? I don’t know. Games of chicken are always hard to predict. Especially when one of the players is politically desperate and mentally compromised. And that, alas, is fair description of the president of the US in 2022.

January 16, 2022

Dispatches From Dystopia

Filed under: CoronaCrisis,Economics,Politics — cpirrong @ 7:17 pm

The shade of James Buchanan rests easy now, secure in the knowledge that he is no longer the worst president in US history.

Although the eclipse of Buck’s dubious claim to fame has been evident for some months, his successor to the sobriquet sealed the deal with a truly loathsome (even by his standards) speech on “voting rights” in Georgia last week. Unsurprisingly demonstrating no shame, or self-knowledge, the one-time buddy of full-on segregationists (e.g., Eastland, Talmadge, Byrd) and man who bragged that (a) Delaware had sided with the South in the Civil War, and (b) that George Wallace praised him, claimed that anyone who opposed the federalization of US elections was in a confederacy with Bull Connor, selfsame George Wallace and . . . Jefferson Davis.

Buchanan was a disaster because he fiddled while the country spun into disunion and civil war. But although he failed to stop it, he didn’t actively stoke division and hatred. Which is what exactly Biden did in his speech.

A sharp contrast to Biden’s previous claims (e.g., in his inaugural address) that he would be a unifier.

As if that was ever credible.

Biden’s speech was so repulsive that even his pom-pom squad (e.g., Peggy Noonan, Chuck Todd, DICK Durbin, Al Sharpton, CNN, MSNBC, etc.) recoiled in horror. Not even they would drink this KoolAid.

But to anyone who is shocked: seriously? Where have you been during Biden’s entire public life? He has ALWAYS been a mean, nasty, dishonest, repulsive schmuck. Did I mention dishonest? His hair plugs are the most honest thing about him. Anyone who fell for the avuncular Joe shtick was an idiot or self-deluded.

In sum, it was only a matter of time before Brandon elbowed Buchanan to the side, and assumed the mantle of worst president in American history. Worst in personality (which is saying something, given the likes of LBJ), the most intellectually limited (by a mile, even before his senescence), and the most inept.

An illustration of Mencken’s adage: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Well, we’re getting it good and hard now, ain’t we?

And as for democracy, and in particular, “our democracy”, Biden’s mantra is that state control of elections is tantamount to Jim Crow. Well, state control of elections has been a staple of “our democracy” (sic–the US is a republic) since the first federal election in 1788. But now it’s not, apparently. Indeed, its an anathema to it.

So spare me any blather about “our democracy” (sic). What we are witnessing is not reverence for, and an effort to protect, our political traditions: it is a concerted attempt to overthrow them.

Switching gears somewhat in my tour-de-dystopia–to COVID. (Not a complete shift, because Biden’s idiocy appears here too).

Here there is too much ground to cover–the entire globe, in fact. So much malignity to choose from. But much of it focuses on vaccine mandates.

Even this is a target rich environment. Macron saying that those refusing vaccination were not citizens and that he would piss on them. Quebec fining the unvaccinated and Canada barring unvaccinated truckers from entering the country (thereby exacerbating an already acute supply chain situation). Germany. Austria. (Germans gonna German!) Biden’s attempts to foist them on the US via OSHA or HHS (the former foiled the latter alas not).

But Australia presents the most egregious example. Australia has been in an intense competition with Canada and New Zealand for the Commonwealth Fascist Cup, but had eased into a comfortable lead with its concentration camps and truncheoning protesters (including old ladies). It has decided to cement its lead with its actions in a very high profile case.

Unvaccinated tennis great Novak Djokovic was just deported, thereby preventing him from playing in the Australian Open (with the very good chance of setting the record for Grand Slam victories). Was he deported because he violated visa requirements? No, even the Australian government recognized that he had a recognized and legitimate exemption–a previous COVID infection which made him less of a threat to the health of Australians than his vaccinated competitors. No. They deported him because he may “foster anti-vaccination sentiment.”

That is, he might galvanize opposition to government propaganda. Or, put differently, he would potentially undermine Mass Formation Psychosis.

Can’t have that!

Note well that governments’ insistence on vaccination has been almost perfectly negatively correlated with evidence regarding vaccine efficacy and perfectly positively correlated with evidence regarding its risks, especially for the non-aged.

To learn more about evidence of the always weak and now declining efficacy of the vaccines, read Substacks by el gato malo, Steve Kirsch, or Alex Berenson. The evidence is too strong to ignore–but governments are doubling down on ignoring it.

Hell, don’t believe them? How ’bout Bill Gates?: “The vaccines we have prevent severe disease and death very well but they are missing two key things. First they still allow infections (‘breakthrough’) and the duration appears to be limited. We need vaccines that prevent re-infection and have many years of duration.” So they don’t work long and they don’t stop the spread. Other than that, they’re great!

Don’t believe Bill? How about the Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla?:

“The two doses, they’re not enough for omicron,” Bourla said. “The third dose of the current vaccine is providing quite good protection against deaths, and decent protection against hospitalizations.”

And believe me, these are the mildest characterizations of mRNA “vaccine” efficacy.

And as for the health risks, the anecdotal evidence (e.g., athletes collapsing or withdrawing from competition due to heart issues) is pretty startling.

Well, you might say, it’s only anecdotal evidence. But I guarantee that for any other medication, this anecdotal evidence would catalyze public outrage and spur aggressive government investigations, and indeed, pre-emptive pauses on further vaccination pending a thorough inquiry.

But here we see the exact opposite from governments. They do not even deign to acknowledge the issue, but double down on their demonization of the unvaccinated, their dismissal of doubts, and their demand for obedience.

Why? For the worst of reasons.

First, governments are loath to admit their myriad errors regarding the panicdemic, most notably their errors in wildly exaggerating the miracles that mRNA technology would shower upon a beleaguered world. Two shots didn’t work??? Then THREE! Three don’t work? FOUR! (The Dutch are planning six!)

Insanity: doing the same thing over, and expecting different results.

And this does not even get into the possibilities mooted by some even before mRNA treatments were widely employed that they could have unintended consequences, such as stimulating mutation or damaging immune systems.

Second, and even more disturbingly, as with most of the COVID policies we have endured the last two years, it’s not really about public health. It’s about public control. The Djokovic situation demonstrates that clearly: he was a threat not because he jeopardized public health (which the government acknowledged he did not), but because he jeopardized the government’s control over an ovine public. The sheep might get ideas!

(Never forget that 40 percent of Australians descend from prison guards conditioned to exact obedience. I shudder to think at the proportion among those in government. And many of the rest descend from prisoners conditioned to obey.)

Take any government policy adopted over the last two years that seems completely insane from a public health perspective. Then evaluate it from the perspective of whether it advances government control–or elite control (e.g., the Bill Gateses of the world).

You’ll find that the public health insanity is the epitome of government control rationality. Every. Damned. Time.

The Djokovic deportation is unique only because it is a disarmingly honest recognition of that fact.

There are stirrings of discontent around the world. But stirrings are not enough. The time for full-blown civil disobedience has arrived. No disobedience now, dystopia forever.

January 9, 2022

Yalta II: Poland Gets Schtupped Again

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 5:21 pm

Vladimir Putin has demanded Yalta II. Specifically, a withdrawal of Nato forces to the pre-expansion lines of 1997, which would basically abandon Poland and the Baltic nations.

It is easy to understand why Putin would demand this. It is far harder to understand why the US, and Nato generally, would give this demand the time of day. But it apparently is doing far more than that: it is signaling a preemptive concession.

Hapless, feckless, gormless, chuckleheaded Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent the signal, in words, not blinkin’ his eyes in Morse Code:

But there’s more!

Of course Blinken said, after suggesting unilateral concessions, there would be no unilateral concessions.

Totally credible! Especially in light of US actions in Afghanistan, etc.

As Casey Stengel once said: “Doesn’t anybody know how to play this game?”

FFS, Russia has taken a maximalist position in its negotiating stance. You don’t respond to a maximalist position by playing Caspar Milquetoast.

TIL that the use of the word "milquetoast" to mean someone ineffectual or  weak derives from the name of a once hugely popular American Newspaper  Comic Strip character, "Caspar Milquetoast", who appeared

(And I swear to God, if Blinken’s photo isn’t next to the definition of “Beta Male” in the dictionary, it damned well should be. Who could possibly be intimidated by this guy? Hell, who in Russia or China isn’t wetting themselves laughing at the thought of seeing this guy at the other end of the bargaining table?)

Somebody comes to negotiations with a maximalist position, the appropriate response is: “fuck you and yo’ mama too.” Call the bluff, then talk.

And it’s so unnecessary. Look, Yalta is hardly a credit to FDR’s legacy, but (a) at the time, Stalin had possession of the territories in question, and possession is ten tenths of the law in international power politics, and (b) FDR was a sick, weak man at the time.

Well, I guess (b) pretty much holds today. (As pathetic as he was, FDR was sharper in 1945 than LGB is now.) But with regards to (a), the situation is totally different. Today Nato controls the territories in question. There is no reason whatsoever in order to make any concessions. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Yes. I have said it’s stupid to include Ukraine in Nato. But Poland and other eastern European nations are already in Nato. Totally different situation. Tell Vova to get over it and get used to it. Don’t egg him on by dangling concessions.

But Biden (and, of course, Germany) appear quite willing to shtup Poland yet again.

One wonders what Poland did to anger God. Placing it on defenseless territory between Germany and Russia. And putting its fate in the hands of feckless fools like Brandon and Blinken.

How disgraceful. Especially since Poland has been the most stalwart member of Nato and very loyal to the US. In stark contrast to the perfidious Germans. Yet whom is Biden apparently content to sell down the river? Yes, disgraceful. But this is a disgraceful administration.

One last thing. Can you imagine the shitshow if the Trump administration had bleated out what Blinken did? “See!!!!! He’s in Putin’s pocket!!!! He’s Putin’s puppet!!! COLLUSION!!!!”

But what do we hear now?: crickets.

January 7, 2022

Kazakhstan: Putin Putting the Band Back Together

Filed under: China,Military,Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 6:51 pm

Kazakhstan has been rocked by days of massive unrest, including attacks on government buildings (including the presidential palace), and large numbers of killed among both security forces and civilians.

The supposed catalyst for the uprising was a rise in liquid petroleum gas (LPG) prices–LPG being a fuel widely used for cooking, heating, and transportation.

This is plausible. Authoritarian regimes can persist despite a deeply unhappy populace because of coordination problems, exacerbated by preference falsification. A rise in the price of food and fuel hits the entire population, and can serve as a focal point on which masses can rally in coordinated opposition. Many rebellions and revolutions start for such reasons, but once they start they are difficult to contain even if the government reverses the initial catalyst, as Kazakh president Tokayev did with LPG. The opposition has coalesced. People know that many share their broader disgust with the rulers. And their is courage in numbers. So even though the spark has been extinguished, the fire can continue to burn.

But I suspect there is more to it than that. Intra-elite conflict is also likely an important driver. Tokayev had succeeded Nazarbayev, but the latter remained powerful, chairing the Security Council. Shortly after fighting erupted Tokayev fired Nazarbayev. Shortly after that, Nazarbayev and his family fled the country. Tokayev also restored the name of the capital (Astana) in lieu of Nur-Sultan (which was an homage to Nazarbayev). It is therefore likely that a conflict between factions is the real underlying cause of the uprising.

One striking thing is that the oppositionists appear to be fairly heavily armed. That would make sense if many of them are effectively militias for one of the elite factions.

Russia, using the beard of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (a poor simulacrum of the USSR), has intervened, sending paratroops to assist Tokayev in crushing the revolt. Apparently ground troops are also massing at the border, and units from the Far East are also being mobilized.

The speed with which Russia reacted is intriguing. It suggests considerable foreknowledge. Perhaps they had good intelligence, could see what was developing in the country, and were ready to act lickety-split if things went pear shaped–as they did.

Or perhaps the Russians knew because they were behind it. They have exploited unrest in Belarus to bring that country largely under Russian control. They are likely to do the same here. It wouldn’t be the first time a country stoked a revolution in another in order to provide a pretext to move in.

But regardless of whether gaining greater control over Khazakstan by intervening to stamp out a rebellion they stoked is part of a plan, or the uprising merely presents an opportunity to do so, there is little doubt that this will be yet another step in Putin’s ambition to put the band (i.e., the USSR) back together.

And Putin does believe he’s on a mission from God.

That’s the goal, surely. But it is easier said than done. Kazakhstan is an immense country. In point of comparison, it four times the size of Afghanistan. Unrest has already spread to all major cities. Yes, it looks like the capital of Astana (at least the government areas) is back under control, but securing many far flung cities and maintaining lines of communication would require far more troops than Russia has. (Recall how quickly it secured Kabul in 1979. Recall how securing Kabul did not translate to controlling the country.) And securing the countryside–forget about it.

Indeed, the immensity of the task is one reason to believe Russia did not foment the uprising, but is instead extemporizing.

Further, this presents a great opportunity for the United States to wage asymmetric warfare against Russia. You know that will be alleged–hell, the government has already blamed it on foreigners. In this case, it is likely to be true. Which will increase the cost of Russian intervention.

Another couple of points. First, although Russia has garnered all the attention, the elephant in the room is China. China borders Kazakhstan. Crucially, Xinjiang borders Kazakhstan, and China is neuralgic about that Muslim province. Moreover, China has extensive economic interests in Kazakhstan. Even though Putin and Xi have been lovey-dovey of late, that’s only been where their interests aligned. There is some alignment of interests in Kazakhstan–neither wants to see it descend into chaos or worse yet assert its independence–but Xi also has no interest in seeing Russia become dominant there and muscle out China. Russia attempting to dominate Kazakhstan will create friction in China.

Second, Ukraine may catch a break for once. The paratroops that Putin dispatched to Astana would be the spearhead of any invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, Russian military capacity (manpower, logistics) is likely insufficient to execute two large operations over such vast spaces (and on two different axes to boot). As noted above, Kazakhstan’s vastness can easily gobble up large numbers. If the Russian involvement in Kazakhstan proves more than fleeting, and especially if it absorbs tens of thousands of troops (not to mention the logistical resources necessary to operate in such a huge country), its ability to attack Ukraine will be reduced commensurately.

Sometimes revolutionary fervor dies out almost as quickly as it starts. But sometimes it doesn’t. Geography alone makes crushing the revolution difficult. And those difficulties may make Kazakhstan Putin’s Ulcer.

January 6, 2022

Worse Than A Crime–A Blunder, Revisited

Filed under: Military,Politics — cpirrong @ 4:46 pm

My initial take on January 6 2021 was to echo Fouché’s verdict on the judicial murder of the Duc d’Enghien by Napoleon “it was worse than a crime: it was a blunder.” Today’s nauseating anniversary remembrance demonstrates exactly why it was such a blunder.

The Democratic Party and the left generally grotesquely exaggerate the events at the Capitol in order to delegitimize any and all opponents on their right. Anyone who opposes the Democratic Party is a threat not to the Democratic Party–but to democracy. Anyone who even suggests that there was something hinky about the 2020 election is an extremist, an insurrectionist. Anybody who opposes the Democratic Party’s agenda is similarly an extremist, an insurrectionist, and a revolutionary.

Cut to video of the Capitol on January 6 2021.

Further, since the right is such a threat to political order, our governing institutions, the rule of law, etc., etc., etc., preemptive actions are justified to fight it. Indeed, it is justified to fight the non-left/non-Democratic by any means necessary (to reprise a phrase made famous–or infamous–by Malcom X):

What the American left needs now is allegiance, not allyship. It must abandon any imagined fantasies about the sanctity of governmental institutions that long ago gave up any claim to legitimacy. Stack the supreme court, end the filibuster, make Washington DC a state, and let the dogs howl, and now, before it is too late. The moment the right takes control of institutions, they will use them to overthrow democracy in its most basic forms; they are already rushing to dissolve whatever norms stand in the way of their full empowerment.

In other words, it is imperative that the left burn the village in order to save it. Put differently, leftist shrieks about the right’s threat to the Constitutional order is projection to the Nth degree.

As an aside, the author of that piece–which has received a lot of attention, as has his book on the same subject–Stephen Marche, is a Canadian with a PhD in early modern English drama from the University of Toronto, who taught Renaissance drama at CUNY (that’s with a “Y”) for a few years. Methinks he should have stuck to the Wars of the Roses, or Justin Trudeau’s socks.

Marche is also particularly alarmed about right (and white) extremism in the military. His main concern is that it will not fight on the right side (I mean, the left side) in a civil war. So it must be purged. Note that such a purge is ongoing. And January 6 is a pretext for that.

The Democrats, and Biden in particular, are especially incentivized to wave the bloody shirt of January 6 (even though the only blood spilled was among the demonstrators) because, well, what else do they have? Everything else, from inflation, to Afghanistan, to COVID, to risking crime, etc., etc., etc., is a disaster. They cannot prevail in elections based on their record of governance, so they have to assert that letting the opposition win would represent the end of self-government in America.

So it’s all January 6 all the time, baby.

Alas, with a few exceptions, the Republican officials have proved to be the pussies that they’ve proved to be time and time before. Even Ted Cruz regurgitated the “violent terrorism” narrative yesterday. With friends like these . . . . They are, in fact, good for nothing cowards who are totally invested in the existing political culture, and are more afraid of bad press than they are willing to speak the truth. And they are too stupid to realize that this craven posture only reduces their chances of electoral victory. It is not called the Stupid Party for nothing.

And the truth is that January 6 was indeed a blot on America’s escutcheon. But the truth is also what January 6 was not. It was not an insurrection. It was a largely spontaneous overreaction of frustrated people in a febrile political and social environment. It was hardly organized or directed–except for colorable claims that any organization or direction came from the FBI and other federal organs. (If the feds were not in the crowd, and did not anticipate what could happen, then they were outrageously incompetent, and completely acting against type–which involves infiltrating every potentially anti-government movement.) It was not a coup, as the term is normally understood. What happened after Trump’s election was far closer to a coup than anything that happened after Biden’s. (Russiagate, impeachments, etc., were all attempts to deny the legitimacy of Trump’s election and to overturn the results thereof, so spare me Democrats’ current laments about how the 2020-21 challenges to the legitimacy of Biden’s election are beyond the pale.)

January 6–and Trump’s reaction to his loss generally–was a tantrum. An understandable tantrum, but a tantrum nonetheless. And like most tantrums, it has proved completely counterproductive and has boomeranged on those who threw it–and on the rest of the non-leftists who were nowhere near the Capitol, and who remained calm. A blunder, as it were. It is being used to discredit any opposition to the left’s extreme agenda by tarring all opponents as rampaging extremists.

It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold. January 6 is a perfect illustration of the wisdom of that adage. Acting in heat, the crowd–and Trump–did far more harm to their cause then good. Better to remain calm and plot vengeance coldly, calculatedly. The failure to do so has made the fight all the more difficult.

Indeed, blunder is too weak a word to describe the choices that people made. Does anyone have any better suggestions?

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