Streetwise Professor

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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