August 2022: An Awful Accelerando

For My Three Raving Fans

INTERNATIONAL:
1. International Institutions Sell Out To Russia
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not going well, but it’s still finding time to intentionally commit lots and lots of war crimes, such as torturing POWs and then burning them all to death in their lice-ridden POW camp at Ohlenivka. These POWs only surrendered to Russia because the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross guaranteed that they would receive proper treatment under the Geneva Convention.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International put out an absolutely incendiary piece ignoring all of Russia’s horrible crimes but accusing Ukraine of intentionally endangering civilians by not putting its military units out in wide-open fields. The facts that Russia puts tube and rocket artillery in the middle of a nuclear plant and uses them to shell civilian areas, or that Russia has been intentionally slaughtering civilians from Day One, or that Russia has kidnapped anywhere from the very high hundreds-of-thousands to low-ish millions of Ukrainian citizens, dumping them in decrepit mental institutions and rural Siberian backwater hovels, apparently isn’t worthy of their notice.

Here at Happycrow’s Eyeball Factory, we consider the Red Cross and Amnesty International at “go die in a fire (at Ohlenivka) status. The AI reporter who wrote the report (which AI has backed) is currently covering Sudan, a place where Russia has undermined the democracy and is looting the place of gold.

2. The Armenian-Azerbaijiani War Is Back On.
Per the terms of the previous ceasefire, Russia was to guarantee that both sides behaved. It was a diplomatic masterstroke turning the entire region into a Russian condominium. But there were two problems.
a. Russia, as usual, lied. It allowed Armenian troops into Nagorno-Karabakh, where soldiers were explicitly banned, while pulling a “wotchu gonna du” on Azerbaijian
b. Russia made the terrible mistake of arguing from amoral force, and then squandering that threat by getting bogged down in a similarly dishonest, amoral war in Ukraine.

Long story short? Azerbaijian isn’t afraid of Russia and isn’t tolerating Armenian troops where they’re not supposed to be. Armenia is a “democracy,” sort of, and Azerbaijian is a dictatorship, but in this case, Armenia is the bad guy here, and has been a crybully from the inception, its own PM’s “wotchu gonna du” move being what precipitated the war in the first place.

Without Russia being able to back up the Armenians, Azerbaijian’s answer appears to be “kick your ass.”

3. China Goes Ballistic (over Taiwan)
We now know how China planned to respond to Pelosi’s visit — by pulling trigger on a long-arranged set of live-fire exercises over and through Taiwanese airspace in a show of, get this, amoral force. China has banned Taiwanese food imports, which must make some bureaucrat happy, while China’s miserable citizens are forced to stick with often-literally-toxic homegrown food.

Long answer short, China is run by fascist villains, so if you buy snacks, investigate your local Asian markets for awesome Taiwanese stuff you can buy to support them.

4. Hunger Stalks Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, one of China’s first and most dramatic debt-trap victims, is now said to have roughly of a quarter of its citizens suffering real hunger. What’s anybody doing about it? The answer is “not much,” and certainly not India, on its doorstep.

(India doesn’t much like Sri Lanka, and is already famous/infamous for being a classic “triangulator” on the global stage. India does what’s good for India, and while individual Indians may care about how people in the rest of the world are doing, India’s federal and regional governing caste (and that is still very much what it is) care much less about the well-being of foreigners than they do their own poor. And that amount is famously “near empty-set.”

5. China Calls Canada To The Carpet
Canada didn’t fight the latest G7 announcement condemning China’s behavior, and Beijing made its displeasure to Canada well-known.

Why Canada? Well, the dirty secret of North America is that, for all its preening, Canada’s human rights record actually isn’t all that good, with its Liberals particularly known for having an absolutely Orwellian authoritarian streak. This is actually common across a lot of the Anglosphere — we tend to espouse high ideals, but when the chips are down or the High Priest Vulture Elite get their meal tickets threatened, the “little people” tend to catch it right in the mouth.

It’s unclear at this point whether Canada will suddenly develop a case of testicular fortitude and tell Beijing to get stuffed, whether they’ll fold, or whether they’ll kick the can down the road mouthing whatever they need to in order to keep China happy (which has mostly been the policy of late).

DOMESTIC
1. Team Red Fucks Up
For all that this blog tends to make comments about Team Blue, because, well, they’re in charge and for the most part doing a horrible job of things, as one would expect of a party whose own house organs (such as the Atlantic) are starting to say “hey…maybe we shouldn’t just cravenly pander to the extremists out on the Maoist Left all the time?” …. Team Red just committed a doozy of an error by inviting Viktor Orban to speak at CPAC in Dallas.

Whatever you think of Trump, unless you get all your media from MSNBC and thus think the January 6th hearings are the cutting edge of admissable evidence on a widespread armed insurrection controlled by Moscow (lol), most people with poor opinions of the former POTUS tend to think “megalomaniacal dumbass,” not villain.

And that’s the problem. Orban is a villain. He is Putin’s Mini-Me in Europe, whose cronies have robbed Hungary so blind that they’re down to giving away their forests to their crony elite, because they’ve run out of anything else to rob. So where’s the support coming from?

Conservatives are incensed. The Right Wing ousts white-supremacists. Granted, for the MSNBC crowd, that’s anybody to the right of Sinema and Manchin…but there is such a thing as “too far to the right” where the overwhelming majority of Team Red will tell you to go jump in a lake and stop associating with respectable people. This doesn’t exist for Team Blue. Whoever stakes out the most-leftward political position is assumed to have greater moral authority. Team Blue is trying to turn that around, but it’s been thirty-plus years in coming, and Realignment is a slow process.

Important caveat, I am talking about party members, not “Tends To Vote This Way or Accept This Party’s Media Narratives.” If you are not an actual political activist or party member who works with and for the parties, you are a ‘voter,’ not a ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat.’

While “okay groomer” is in most cases a terrible slander, it has an awful kernel of truth inside it. It is unfortunately true that some of Team Blue’s powerful players have sheltered and covered for actual groomers engaged in seriously creepy shit like trying to sexualize kindergarteners.

Wait, I thought we were talking about Team Red screwing the pooch. What gives?

It’s like this. Orban’s a villain, but just bc you’re a villain doesn’t mean you’re dumb. Orban’s all over this phenomenon when talking to right-wing U.S. media, because it’s an easy way to score points with low-information voters who are legit terrified that some people in the schools think they, not the parents, own the right to raise their kids the way they see fit. And so the Fox Crowd on Team Red, being every bit as gullible as the MSNBC crowd but in the other direction, tends to say “this guy doesn’t like something I don’t like! By Jove, I like the cut of that man’s jib!”

Which is idiocy. And supporting Orban as a prime speaker plays right into the “conservatives love fascist tyrants trope,” because, well…. Orban is a fascist tyrant. If Team Red fawns all over him, it has nobody to blame but itself when those chickens come home to roost, and just as with Team Blue suffering a “we scored cheap and easy wins for a whole generation by pandering to the Maoists, how do we fix this now” hangover, the longer Team Red turn a blind eye to the fact that they’re giving plaudits to villains, the deeper the damage they’re going to suffer.

2. No commentary YET on primaries-and-mid-terms.

The Chattering Class is all over it, but it’s too early for analysis, and I’m not making prognostications at that level of politics, because my goal is to see what the big picture is and not argue for why you or somebody else should believe X, but to describe why “they” do, and how that affects the landscape.

3. People are starting to lose their gourds over Monkeypox.

Stay clean and stay wholesome and don’t do close-contact with exchange fluids with people who have Monkeypox, and the vast majority of the evidence says “you’ll be fine.”

What do we mean by wholesome? Okay, full disclosure. I’m an “out of date ally” who used to live in San Francisco, and although personally I’m straight, I hung out with bi activists working against “bi erasure,” which was still a major thing until very recently. I’ve spent some time in the Castro, and there are a lot of awesome, super-wholesome people in the Castro. But there are, unfortunately, a few people in the community who are making things bad for everybody else by raw-dogging it around and not taking common-sense precautions, and for better or for worse, people still think SF is significant, so that combined with “cheap and easy low-effort headlines” is playing right into the “let’s paint Monkeypox as a gay disease” b.s. — don’t be a victim either way. That headline is obviously wrong, and in the era of drug-resistant gonorrhea and other really nasty STDs, which are widespread in the U.S. population, raw-dogging it in public venues is just hilariously irresponsible.

4. No economic relief in sight for the working and middle class

There’s already significant pushback on the Fed for having dared to raise rates out of the basement, because under Quantitative Easing, the entire economy was rigged to make you rich if you were in stocks, and impoverished if you were A Mere Normie. It is unclear whether the political class will allow even a mild version of “The Volcker Treatment” to go forwards and restore people’s savings or not. The High Priest Vulture Elite prefers investments. Personal savings is already at an all-time low because food prices and housing prices are at enormous highs while we’re in recession. (Yes, we are in recession, no matter how much various actors try to cover for the administration. Recession was inevitable for high-level fiscal and monetary reasons and would have landed on Trump had he remained in office as well. To that extent, Team Blue’s inflationary policies have actually done the country a major favor in the long-term, by forcing the Fed’s hand. The longer that can got kicked down the road, the worse the inevitable hang-over.)

Take care of each other, and be relentlessly wholesome and tolerant with those who disagree with you, especially if they’ve been victimized by a reliance partisan news sources. The High Priest Vulture Elite on both sides of the aisle far prefer to play divide, conquer, and distract, and the only way to avoid becoming a victim of said narratives is to Stay. Wholesome.

More July-End Updates

PERSONAL:
1. Ragweed season has now hit and I have the allergic pseudo-flu hard. You know, all the covid symptoms but none of the cachet. Whee!
2. I finally have an office! I lack my final (~permanent) certification for my practice, but it’s coming on fast and I’m getting set up.

INTERNATIONAL:
1. Pelosi Visit
: US/China bracing for whether Pelosi does or does not visit Taiwan. If she does, it will mean massive loss of face for Beijing (which made big threats, will look impotent). If she doesn’t, it means massive loss of face for D.C. (will look like hypocritical cowards, which, tbf, summarizes most of our political class anyway). China takes this seriously enough to have enaged in live-fire exercises over Taiwan in order to get its point across, but nobody serious thinks they’re ready to go kinetic over it.

Meanwhile, China’s economy continues to collapse.

2. Russian War Crimes: Russia caught red-handed repeatedly torturing POWs, forcing them onto psychotropic drugs to render then addled basket-cases, and in several cases castrating/executing them as part of ongoing torture. UN/Red Cross, as usual, nowhere to be found in spite of giving “guarantees.” (Red Cross has pretty much put the nail in its coffin of international credibility now, with a proven track record of always backing the dictator in any conflict. This is part and parcel of “institutional rot,” a major problem in human civic and political affairs). RU now caught blatantly using thermobarics to burn POWs to death, while trying to blame it on Ukrainian rocketry. The claims are laughable at best for a gazillion technical reasons. Nobody is actually fooled, but this is what Moscow thinks will create social disharmony in Ukraine.

Lessons of History: Inflicting Atrocities on the Enemy Galvanizes Your Enemy, Rather Than Demoralizing Them

2.a. Russian International Atrocities: Russian rape of Sudan continues, having destabilized the fledgling democracy and now using its PMCs and handlers to pillage whatever gold it can get. (Meanwhile, the US, incarcerating hundreds of thousands for pot use, are going to trade Russia a known war criminal in favor of a basketball player in the klink for …. pot use. The “our drug war is a racist war against the poor and poorly-connected” headlines write themselves).

Meanwhile, Russia’s economy continues to collapse.

3. Energiewende: Germany: “maybe we made an error and we should pull those nukes out of mothball status, since this winter is going to suck really badly.”

4. Iraq: Say what you want about Moqtada Sadr, the man’s a patriot. With Iranian-backed parties in power planning to install a subservient regime, Sadr put protestors well inside the Green Zone to make it clear that Iraq refuses to be anybody’s geopolitical finger-puppet.

5. South Korea: Massive infighting and hilariously low approval means a big shakeup coming in government. Affects regional relationships, or can.

DOMESTIC

1. Political Realignment and all its inanity. The Republicans are working to figure out whether they can keep the “pragmatic populism” model DeSantis espouses while divorcing themselves from Trump. The Democrats are trying to figure out how to divorce themselves from their most left-wing activists after promulgating a party culture in which whoever espouses the most left-wing POV by definition owns the moral high ground. This is extra-hard for the Dems because they have the single least popular President of the entire post-WWII era, and that with basically every major nationwide institution bending over backwards to prop the guy up.

It’s a GREAT YEAR to decide not to engage in politics on social media.

2. Massive droughts expected to continue in the Southwest, as La Nina appears to be a lasting pattern. Buckle up, folks. La Nina’s being a real bitch this year, exacerbating the usual fire and flood seasons. Sooner or later, hard decisions are going to need to be made regarding land use in the Colorado River basin, and the wealthy agriculturalists of southern California are likely to catch that hard (thus spiking food prices even higher).

3. Recession is on, and Americans are going into it with record low savings. Some inflation metrics are actually trending the right way, albeit due to demand destruction, but take care of your neighbors, this is going to be “decidedly uncomfortable,” particularly once self-inflicted inflation combines with the drought and spikes meat prices through the ceiling.

4. Oregon to vote on extremely strict gun-control measure. With massive LEO failures to prevent shootings, Team Blue is on a full-court-press to make sure only institutions have access to firearms. That’s going to make politics even uglier, see #1 above.

5. Monkeypox! Is it the new AIDS as some suggest? (No) Or is it a blatant failure of the CDC and NIH to counter an extremely controllable disease literally related to the smallpox disease that is their literal reason for existing as instutions and for which they’ve in theory had actual decades of planning? (“Signs point to yes.”)

That’s all for this time. Be good to your neighbors, and remember, the High Priest Vulture Elite thrives on divide-and-conquer. Be extra good and patient and tolerant to people who’ve gotten sold the “this is all simple if we could only get rid of those evil (insert political tribe here) people in office/power/society.”

July-End News Update

For my three raving fans: another short update

INTERNATIONAL:

1. Germany: Pride goeth before a fall: electricity is slowly turning into a luxury good in Germany.

So hey, how’s that Energiewende working out for you now?

Problem is, Germany bet its entire economy on Russia being a reliable partner, as defined by political Berlin. That held true while Schroeder and Merkel were in power, as wholly-owned subsidiaries of “Russia, Inc” who always took Russia’s side in international affairs whenever the stakes were high (to the point that Merkel’s blatant backstabbing of Ukraine in 2014 earned her the harsh but entirely justified nickname “Frau Ribbentrop.”)
At this point, though, Germany is screwed. It bet its entire economic future on two postulates:
1. Maastricht deficit targets mattered and Germany could treat the EU as its own private mercantilist empire, with a Euro rigged to destroy most of the EU’s export manufacturing while privileging its own, without repercussions (such as Brexit and the shambolic nightmare of the southern EU nations’ sovereign debt crises). This was insanely profitable for Franco-German banks, but was terrible for the average “EU citizen.”
2. Germany could treat Russia as its own private gas station and raw materials hub, exporting manufactured goods Russia could never hope to make themselves into a country whose oligarchs had no problem being “Zaire with permafrost” so long as they got and stayed stratospherically wealthy. Of course, along the way, Germany didn’t refuse to acknowledge that Russia is a hilariously racist revanchist power who literally regards any territory every controlled by the Russian Empire (‘Soviet’ or not) as People Moscow Has A Legitimate Right To Rule. What they refused to acknowledge was that Germany wasn’t in control of the relationship, and never could be, because contrary to the view from the Bundestag, Germany needed Moscow a lot more than Moscow needed Germany.

Now it has a declining population leading to less domestic consumption, its source for cheap material inputs is under sanctions that even the German public won’t let its leaders evade too blatantly, and, oh, yeah, Russia owns all the inputs and many of the storage facilities for not just its energy sources, but its entire chemical industry as well. In the midst of that, a too-cozy relationship with China, against which it was repeated warned, resulted in China stealing most of Germany’s intellectual property, and the Eurozone is a shambolic nightmare whose economic future, outside of France and the Scandis, looks grim at best. How does Germany pivot to this, particularly while its political class dare not even admit to the challenges for fear of instantly losing its coalition?

2. China. China is reeling from several crises.
First, its diplomatic threat to create and enforce a no-fly zone over Taiwan tied to Nancy Pelosi visiting. Would China shoot her down? Because that’s called “war,” and the U.S. response would be instantly and overwhelmingly kinetic.
Second, The unfortunately long-expected move to begin erasing Cantonese as a language in Hong Kong (much as Shanghai’s dialect was wiped out) is now on, with movements promulgated from Beijing to have schooling carried out in Mandarin. This is a crisis for Cantonese speakers and will exacerbate capital flight from the country.
Third, the bottom has officially fallen out of the property sector, which makes up 26% of China’s GDP. Record numbers of Chinese are simply walking away from/abandoning mortgage payments. China’s government, meanwhile, is pushing additional housing development, because at the end of the day its bureaucrats aren’t stupid, but they’re locked into a system where their room to maneuver is sharply constrained.

None of this is going to be pretty.

3. The war in Ukraine rages on, with the possibility of Ukrainian counter-offensives soon. Russia has kidnapped, by credible estimate, 2.8 million Ukrainians, including nearly half a million children, and without an absolutely overwhelming victory, they will be unable to force Russia to free them. US and NATO gear is helping considerably, but we’re piecemealing in equipment, which is sub-optimal.
4. Sri Lanka remains a basketcase, but it’s not the only one.

DOMESTIC
1. It’s an election year and people are stupid.
2. The January 6 hearings continue, not because Team Blue thinks it will do lasting harm to Trump (it won’t), but because right now, that’s about all they’ve got to show to try to pump turnout. Team Blue, still in Realignment, is in trouble, because it’s pandered to its most extreme left for almost three years running, and every time those doodz open their mouths, it sends moderate left voters running for the exits, to the point where one can credibly argue that the Hispanic vote is now fully in play, and enough of the African-American vote is in play to jeopardize their standing as a national party.
3. Why the Team Blue focus? Again, because Team Red is more or less not running anything right now, and is mostly made up of “playing to the base in anticipation of an overwhelming landslide in November.” Jury’s out – they could get miniscule results, or they could smash records, and as Team Red has finished Realignment, unlike Team Blue, it is a known quantity and the question is basically “just how far down with the extreme left drag Team Blue down?” Safe bet: not all the way, but pretty far. Never underestimate the inability of fanatics to deride the concerns of anybody who isn’t a fellow fanatic.
4. Inflation continues to absolutely rage, and the Fed is tightening up as it must do. This means that recession is inbound. Lumber and car-finance indicators already show this solidly. Everything else on the domestic side basically pales in comparison right now.

Fore-warned is fore-armed.
Anybody who isn’t solidly and safely upper-middle-class needs to batten down and go into “prepare for things to stay bad” mode. Because the dudes in the McMansions don’t have to care if there’s 15% YOY shelter inflation and the only chicken for sale that isn’t made of rubber starts at $4/lb., but everybody else has to care. A lot. And the only way that’s getting worked out is via a significant contraction where the working and middle classes get to suffer even more while the fiscal elites around whom the entire playing field has been tilted continue to, ahem, Make Bank. But if you know it’s here and plan to play prudently, you can put yourself in a position to benefit from being pleasantly surprised — not all Black Swan Cases are catastrophes.

You think NUKES are destructive?

As Frank Herbert wrote: ~”Power does not inherently corrupt, but it is magnetic to pathological personalities.” Or, in the words of the great sage Dave Barry: “politics is like a septic tank: the REALLY BIG CHUNKS float to the top.”

Welp. The shit is finally hitting the fan.

ON THE ONE HAND
a) U.S. inflation rates can no longer be ignored (and hence aren’t) by the High Priest Vulture Elite at the Fed and inside the Beltway. The snarking “let them eat cake” politicos who chuckled at “if gas is too expensive for your working-class family, just buy a (50k) electric car like I did, no problem” are now nowhere in sight now that both parties realize this is a question of political survival.

The Fed’s now at 1.75% after years of absolutely distorting EVERYTHING in the economy by shoving it to nigh-zero. If you’re a big minimum-wage-hike booster? Right bark, wrong tree: the Fed consistently making your money worthless while blatantly lying to everybody about inflation is the tree you should be barking at. (9.1 official, after 2+ years of **15 f’ing pc** YOY shelter inflation. See results below when I start lobbing bricks at the OTHER septic tank across the pond.

ON THE OTHER HAND
b) as U.S. HPVE raise interest rates back up to what is would, in a sane world, be considered dangerously low rates (and in the process hopefully start un-fucking the U.S. real estate market so Zoomers and Late Milennials can actually afford to move out of their parents’ houses and into class-C apartments with roommates, as many currently cannot afford to do, and yes, I meant that, CLASS C apts) …. USD has gone to parity with the Euro. Because the worst-kept secret on the international stage (and one Putin has counted upon for years as he stockpiled bullion) is that the Eurozone never reformed AT ALL after ’08. Faced with the overwhelming evidence that the Euro is a disaster, the EU version of the HPVE decided to argue that the Eurozone was semantically equal to the survival of the EU itself and the alternative to the Euro is a return to war-raved Europe (no, really, this argument has been made, and often). The official ECB deposit rate is still NEGATIVE 0.50. So that’s great for the survival of Bretton Woods’ fundamental conceit: EU-zone exports to the U.S. are going to do GREAT under this regime. Until the Eurozone implodes, the EU dissolves, or “something else happens” to crater U.S. demand.

ON THE GRIPPING HAND
c) Emerging Market loans are priced in USD, and as the global economy goes into supply-chain hell, demographic deflation, and in many cases, the tragedy of “we simply don’t have a credible means of getting business from the outside world bc our HPVE stole all the education money and our workers are blatantly uncompetitive on the global market” means that a stronger dollar makes it harder and harder for these economies to service their debts. Nobody but the Saudis and MAYYYYBE the Turks are going to open a factory in Egypt. And while Bolivia has done shockingly well with its weird brand of ethno-socialism, a strong USD bodes poorly for Central America, perennially torn between right-wing oligarchic kleptocracy, and left-wing communist kleptocracy. The less stable your society, the less attractive you are to foreign investors.

So if you’ve been following the news and thought hunger in Sri Lanka was bad? Now add a USD that is trying to get back into the same zip code of where it ought to be in terms of domestic strength. Now add, on TOP of all this, Part 2 of the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine this spring and the fact that Russia is *torching Ukrainian wheat fields.*

Nightmare Fuel.

But watch your High Priest Vulture Elite pronouncements for more gas-lighting and victim-blaming among those who profit mightily by refusing to reform while sending the global economy out of whack in every way. China, for all its top-to-bottom blatant dishonestly and corruption, wishes its military possessed the destructive power wielded by Christine Lagarde plus a telephone.

Thoughts on July 4th

Happy ‘Murica Day.

If the fundamental pretense of American culture is correct — that government exists not as an entity of its own, built by Pharoah (or whatever title Pharaoh styles itself by — Prime Minister, President, King, Prince, it makes no difference) for the purpose of Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s court, but by people, for people, for the purpose of protecting rights which cannot be taken away from them, then those rights are universal, and history can be expressed as the struggle to improve society while respecting those rights.

The rights themselves cannot be improved upon — if one has the right to free speech, that right is final. Every attempt to improve it becomes an encumbrance to its practice, and simply another route back to Pharaoh. Hence the contention built into every free society, as millions wish to improve their worlds, but many fall back upon new “improvements” which turn out to be simply a route back to that sterile world where some people set the rules for others, without any thought of obeying them themselves, nor of obtaining the consent of those who would be so governed. A world in which some *rule* and others obey (or else).

That world is still around us. Slavery remains rampant. Pharaoh remains strong. On July 4, 2022, Pharaoh still has its boot on better than 4 billion people — half the necks of our world. The Great Freedom War has gone kinetic in Ukraine, where those brave people fight for the right not to be Muscovy’s slaves. Karakalpakstan is in the same situation in Uzbekistan. Across the globe, sub-kinetic conflicts rage over who shall determine who else has access to what (often, food).

And America must decide, once again, whether to maintain the promise of Bretton Woods, where we agree to open our markets in ways which no other country does, running immense, lopsided deficits and continuing to guarantee the safety of all international trade, so that our brothers and sisters in the world can trade with anyone, anywhere, in order to better their lives, without the need to fight over spheres of influence, basing rights, and who gets access to secure oil at reasonable prices (and hence can maintain civilization as we know it)…. and who pays $400 a barrel, when they can manage to get it past pirates, hostile neighbors, and hostile neighbors posing as pirates.

If we continue to shoulder this burden, we endure the world’s merciless contempt when we screw it up, which we will, because we are ill-suited to Empire. The benefits of Bretton Woods are universally popular, but the “Pax Americana” is not, and those within our government who feel the temptation to play Pharaoh themselves are astonishingly bad at hiding their ambitions. Or, we can withdraw from the world and say “the world can take care of itself, we have our own concerns.”

I don’t know the answer. I only hope that one day the Great Freedom War will end, and Francis Fukuyama’s incredibly premature notion of “the end of history” (as he defined it) will come to pass. Let freedom ring. For EVERYONE.

End of June News Update

This is less and lower-quality than usual — sorry, June has been an EXCEPTIONALLY busy month personally and professionally. Will do two updates minimum for July.

INTERNATIONAL:

  1. The war slowly turns in Ukraine’s favor, as western rocket systems allow systematic attack of Russian ammunition depots. Meanwhile, Russian artillery continues to target such militarily-valuable targets as… busy shopping malls. The US will send air-defense systems to Ukraine now that it has become obvious even to the political classes that Russia is intentionally trying to destroy the civilian population.
  2. Russia has defaulted on its loans. Russian-enforced Global famine remains very much in the cards. Russia continues to threaten Lithuania for refusing Russian goods by train to the enclave. this is an EXPLICIT Article-5 call and essentially World War Three if Russia pulls the trigger.
  3. Global oil prices remain stratospheric and will stay that way unless a lot more oil comes onto the market. With US production knee-capped by Team Blue for environmental reasons, this is extremely unlikely. (Former major players like Venezuela would need years to get oil to market). REMINDER — at least a quarter of crude production is feedstock for the petrochemical industry, which makes almost every material the modern world uses. So this matters. With social unrest in Ecuador threatening to take its oil off-market….
  4. India is upping its missile game, which should give Pakistan and its owner China singificant pause.
  5. Zimbabwe has dollarized its economy as it attempts to avoid civlizational collapse.
  6. Saudis providing a half-billion in investments in Egypt in order to prop up its economy. Egypt is in big trouble, having little to offer except tourism and control of the Suez, neither of which is enough.
  7. Brazil’s relatively dry year allowing a quality 2nd corn harvest, which may ameliorate global hunger.
  8. China continues its shambolic economic collapse.

DOMESTIC:

Nothing has changed on the inflation front, though the Fed IS raising rates. All the oxygen in the room is being taken up with SCOTUS decisions this week.

  1. Roe v Wade finally struck down. This one had been coming for a VERY long time (even the late SCOTUS judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg had warned activists for actual years that RvW stood on constitutionally VERY shaky ground and that they needed to be ready, because RvW’s survival was largely political, rather than legal).

I’m not arguing the merits of “the debate” here, and will delete any comment which tries to. My concern is for how these debates shape the landscape.

This “motivates the base on BOTH sides,” and also “stay the hell off Twitter or at least prune your feed carefully unless you enjoy reading angry self-righteous hot-takes from all sides.” If you thought the Culture Wars were bad last year, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

WINNERS: Republicans and Pro-Life Democrats (there are a lot of them, but they don’t get press time because they’re mostly hispanic, and Latino and Latina concerns only tend to get air time for border issues).

LOSERS: 3rd and 4th wave feminists, and the Maoist Left. RvW is THE lynch-pin of 3rd-wave feminism. Unlike 2nd-wave feminism, which promulgated the idea of abortion being a tragic but necessary affair, 3rd-wave feminism sanctified it as the centerpiece of their political movement. 4th-wave feminists and the Maoist Left are in many ways the same people, but the latter lose for a different reason. Team Blue, which had in many ways become their prisoner culturally (until very recently, when The Atlantic, which is Team Blue’s cultural mouth-piece, started sounding the alarm on that), has historically framed RvW and abortion as a “women’s issue,” in stark contrast to Team Red, which does not. With the Maoist Intersectionalists mandating such Orwellian Duckspeak as “nursing persons” and “birthing persons” instead of, well, “women,” this means that when Team Blue rallies out the troops, they’re going to be politely told to shut the hell up. Point blank, the Democratic Party has decided that women DO in fact officially exist now. Expect a classic Circular Firing Squad, made all the more intense by the fact that the Dems are still in the Re-Alignment process.

Whether 1970s-style sloganeering will work is a very different ball of wax, since the “Roe Effect” is very real, with Team Red having on average a stunning 40% more kids than Team Blue — and with America’s dangerously-low fertility rates, it’s not because Republican voters have a lot of kids, but because childless Democrats are increasingly the norm outside of famously family-centric Latino households. The only major Blue States to rank top-25 childbirth per-capita are CA, VA, and MN, and none get higher than 15th place (as of 2020). Both parties will need to consider their messaging accordingly, or else they could wind up with electoral disasters on their hands.

  1. SCOTUS backed a coach for wanting to pray on the field after games as protected free speech. Partisan decision, with Democrat appointees wanting to make public space an explicitly secular zone the way it’s done in France. This decision matters for “who gets to set the rules” purposes almost as much as RvW does, as the opposite decision would have created a precedent for sharply constraining the free speech rights of teachers. Another hard-loss for the Maoist Left.

May End Update

For My Three Raving Fans.

INTERNATIONAL:
1. The Attempted Russian Genocide of Ukraine continues apace. The immediate race is as follows:
a) Southern Ukraine has exceptional rail coverage, which RU can use to advantage, since it is designed as a rail-based military. And Mud Season is over, giving RU units better maneuver.
b) Ukrainian personnel are receiving training on NATO equipment and will soon be able to enter the field with them in numbers.
Which of these is more telling depends on who makes the most mistakes in the next six weeks.

2. Global Starvation: We were already going to have a very, very bad year due to natural gas supplies being exceptionally tight (and if you like fertilizer and poor people being able to afford food, you need to get over your environmental squeamishness and embrace Natural Gas. The alternative is getting on the “my environmental ethics make me comfortable with children dying of starvation,” train, which may work for financially secure misanthropes like David Attenborough, but which is otherwise, a very bad look and sort of the definition of “let them eat cake privilege.” Sri Lanka already has food-related riots, and now with Russian and Ukrainian wheat and corn off the market (people don’t talk about it, but Ukraine is the #4 corn supplier), those have spread to Iran, with Egypts giving significant and higly-accurate warnings that millions are in danger of malnutrition and/or starvation. Minus exceptional players such as Turkey, the entire MENA region, which is dependent on commodity sales because it can no longer train a workforce up to international standards and therefore basically has nothing else to offer the world except tourism and art, has already devolved to the point where protein is becoming financially inaccessible, and in some places that is beginning to extend to bread.

Iran is exceptionally vulnerable to this, as its citizens are sophisticated enough to know that they would have a stable economy had their shockingly corrupt dictators not wasted all their money on empire-building. “Death to the Dictator” has replaced “Death to America” in big swaths of Iran. (The fact that the matter was mostly compulsory-performative rather than sincere does not change the fact that the former is very sincere, and the Iranian state is reacting to that as one might suspect).

3. Monkeypox scares everybody…kinda. The emerging variant is effectively a form of STD which is transmitted by close contact. It’s bad and we don’t want it, but this isn’t Covid 2, The Awfulling. Fortunately.

4. Labor win in Australia. It’s unclear precisely how that’s going to work out on the world stage, but Australia’s got lots and lots of problems and a shake-up was inevitable. The danger on the world stage is the suspicion that Aussie’s Labor Party will be significantly less willing to confront China in its excesses. While I consider that danger somewhat overblown, for now we’re in the “post-electoral simping/hysteria” stage.

DOMESTIC:
1. The leak of the Dobbs opinion continues to have semi-political repercussions. I say “semi-” because those who are already pro-abortion activists are “owned” Democratic votes and not going to jump ship, and those who are anti-abortion activists are likewise “Team Red Forever.” (I am not going to sink into partisan bromides or vocabulary here, and the only reason I address it at all is the demographic implications for America. As a Gen-X kid whose generation saw almost a quarter of its entire population destroyed due to abortion, I keep a keen weather-eye for how this affects our progress through the genetic filter of “those who don’t want children simply no longer have any.” Also, yes, you read that right. The official figure for GenX is 23%, or 3 out of every 13 children destroyed.)
While I eventually expect artificial womb technology to render this part of the Culture Wars moot, and there is serious progress on just that, to assist those who desperately want children in taking over pregnancies from those who desperately wish not to have them, for now, it remains grist for the kind of political manipulators who love anything that might bump turnout in the midterms by a point or two. That is to say, angry and divisive kabuki theatre Washington, D.C. specializes in. Divide et imperum.

2. As stated, the Democratic Party civil war is looking to be on for real, and the “woke” (i.e., Maoist) side of Left Faction is about to wake up to its horror to discover that the Democratic Party’s financial backers have for the most part tolerated this wing of the party rather than actually supported it (Disney aside: “traditional Hollywood” remains all-in, presumably on the assumption that its bottom-line is unassailable no matter how low its public approval numbers go. They may be right.). A significant number of private companies are quietly backing away from their support for this portion of the Culture War, as they realize that the Twitterati do not, in fact, represent mainstream or even moderately-mainstream opinion in America, and that pleasing the Twitterati is more or less synonymous with alienating and angering vast swaths of consumers who will absolutely cut their nose off to spite their face if that means defending their core cultural identities in the process. Thus Netflix and a significant chunk of other companies removing “high water woke” mantras in their corporate governance. The ideological may be willing to go down swinging to defend their political viewpoints (as a pragmatic libertarian who moved often enough that he never really fits in anywhere, and thus home-rolled his own belief systems about pretty much everything, this is not a pov to which I am any kind of stranger), but the well-heeled donor class actually expects a return for its money, and it’s becoming clear that pleasing 12% of the country while pissing off 36% is a losing proposition.

The trick here is, “what does the rest of the Democratic Party actually believe in,” now that it’s becoming willing to push back on its Maoist Wing? The neo-liberal wing, tied inexorably to the Clinton Faction’s excesses, is doomed. The fact that most people know nothing about Sussman, Durham, etcetera, does not mean that the Clintons are not, in point of fact, in deep shit legally, and their moral credibility is sound only amongst their most bought-in backers, as “the energy” in the party is oriented entirely away from their style of politics.

This matters, because it presages The End Of Realignment and a return to political parties who more or less actually represent their voters’ interests.

3. Economics – America’s middle class is dying. No changes of note there, while they try desperately not to be crushed, resulting in an upper-middle pseudo-Brahmin class serving the interests of the wealthy, and a vast sea of painfully-impoverished “Everybody else” trying to afford rent. Right now we’re teetering between ruinous stagflation and a long-overdue (and hence exceptionally painful) recession. The Attempted Russian Genocide doesn’t help with that — but it’s by no means the cause. Geopolitics will eventually help with that a bit, but there is massive and painful retooling which has to occur, and The High Priest Vulture Elite first has to understand that constantly rigging the game so that shelter and food become every more expensive is not a winning formula for long-term societal wealth.

American Political Polarization, ca 2022. Or, “what the heck is going on with these wackos?”

What’s going on here?

There was recently a thread on Twitter where a liberal posted this as a lament.

This seems accurate.

There was the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth and partisan “no YOU got more extremist!” on both sides. And some people who didn’t like said liberal’s POV posted this as a rejoinder.

This seems accurate, too.

So how can both of these be accurate? Well, as Jonathan Haidt points out, the last ten years have been stupid in part because the Internet makes it easy for the whackadoodles to whackadoodle in public. But that’s a small part of the story.

Team Blue

In governance, government is gradually becoming more conservative in scope, and that includes most Democrats. This is because demography is gutting the American Welfare State, and Team Blue is desperately trying to make ends meet on a state level (it’s not an accident that the Deep Blue Enclaves are horrifying messes — models built by and for the Baby Boomer generation haven’t worked, and the New Urbanism, which attempts to basically turn cities into entertainment machines for up and coming “creatives,” has been proven to be an utter failure from the point of view of birthrate, housing, crime, and fiscal sustainability. It’s a lot of fun for tech workers, but not for the working-class people who pour the coffee and keep the lights on.) The serious Democrats in office know they have no choice but to hold the line and gradually enact hilariously painful reforms, while desperately fending off Sanders-style takeover attempts from the extreme Left.

In culture, however, Team Blue has gone not just radically to the left, but literally to its left-most extreme, and camped out there. In many parts of America, Team Blue eschews the First Amendment, proffers the idea that school districts have the right to engage in ideological education and character development, and lately, that government should determine what is true and what is false. POTUS’ new “Ministry of Truth for the Internet” is precisely the kind of thing Orwell’s readers among Democrats have feared for decades. The difference is that they feared that it would come from the political right. As Haidt points out in his article, The Woke own the commanding heights of the entire culture, and Team Blue has essentially said “okay, you are now defining our culture for us,” as they’ve been too scared to fight back. Whether children should be getting sex education in kindergarten regardless of their parents’ wishes may be arguable, but it’s not at all surprising that Disney has radically mischaracterized the Floridian legislation around the controversy, nor that Team Blue has backed Disney to the hilt… and universally.

So far as culture is concerned, the Democrats have allowed the extremists to define the party, and they still have not fought back in any meaningful way, because the extremists have most of the money. Haidt’s article, in that context, is an absolute artillery barrage.

Team Red

Team Red’s rightward drift is actually very simple to explain, and most Team Blue voters don’t understand it because The Big Sort means that most Democratic voters simply don’t have any friends who are, let alone talk politics with, Team Red Voters. The only time they encounter Team Red is in openly-adversarial online encounters (point blank, Team Red knows what Team Blue thinks, because Team Blue owns all of America’s major institutions, and tries to make its policy preferences a mandatory part of the culture in all of them. Team Blue has no idea, nor cares, what Team Red thinks).

It’s not conspiracy theorists, shockingly. Team Red has had those forever, and they haven’t been particularly important. While Team Blue operates on a “no enemies to the left” paradigm, that is very much not the case in reverse. Most of Team Red holds Birchers, QAnon, etc etc in absolute contempt and is not only not afraid to say so, it does so on a regular and constant basis. Are there actual white-supremacists and anti-semites on Team Red? Yes. And Team Red voters tell them to shut the fuck up on the regular. For the most part, socially, Team Red has moved to the left considerably.

The difference is in political leadership. Between Reagan and Trump, liberal “Rockefeller Republicans,” i.e., Chamber of Commerce types who wanted to make bank while not particularly having any interest in conservative ideas at all, ran the party. This was in particular the Bush Dynasty, but also includes Romney, etcetera. Of course, in office or threatening to get into office, the Left characterizes them as Hitler, Actually Hitler, Literally Hitler, or merely Bu$Hitler. It’s only in opposition to conservatives they they’re suddenly Senior Statesmen of note. But most Team Red voters are fundamentally Reaganites. They’re pro-family, relatively flexible on sexual mores (but not so much on abortion, which constantly pisses Team Blue off), and fans of limited government. Their political leadership is starting to look like they do.

The Team Red Populists are sometimes conservative, sometimes old-school Labor Democrats, and sometimes absolute nut-job whackadoodles. But Team Red looks like it’s lurched right because President Obama wasn’t wrong when he said that both parties were fighting over the ten yards in the middle of the football field: prior to Trump, Team Red’s politicians were essentially moderate liberals, little different from the Democratic neo-liberals of Clinton, Inc.. Team Blue lurched left culturally in order to make a meaningful distinction between the two increasingly-similar parties.

And then Trump, who is a lightining-rod not just for his over-the-top personality. Because Trump is a populist and politically, a ’90s-style Labor Democrat. It’s not an accident Oprah wanted him to run for President. Just, you know, not against the very left-wing dream candidate Hillary Clinton, who owned and defined the Democratic Party for 20 years, and whose version of the Affordable Care Act back in the 90s would have made all private medical practices illegal.

But Team Red embraced him, because “Trump fights.” And in many cases, he fought for things they cared about, such as the energy sector and working-class jobs, two areas that used to be Democratic Labor Strongholds, but which were abandoned when Team Blue chose the radical environmentalists over Working-Class Labor. The technocrats in D.C. have not exactly covered themselves in glory over the past ten years, and Team Red Voters are sick of being talked down to, insulted, and gaslit on a regular basis by pundits who want to pretend otherwise. “Fauci as sexy rock star of the pandemic” vs “Fauci the blatant grifter who has been part of the problem from Day One” is only one example of the divide in perspective here. It’s not that Team Red hates science: it’s just that they’re not willing to make “science” synonymous with “Occupy Democrats Infographics.”

Now that Republican politicians are actually trying to create conservative-leaning policy, there’s visible air between them and Bush/Romney, Inc., and of course the cultural gulf is now a no-man’s-land between the extreme left’s “anything other than craven agreement on every issue is bigotry, racism, sexism, whatever-ism,” and a Republican party that’s moved a little left on cultural and economic issues but is still fundamentally enthused by Reagan’s vision of a country that’s bottom-up rather than experts-and-media-down.

The Future

The short-term political horizon of Team Red Populists vs Team Blue Wealthy Ideologues is shattering, as Team Blue wakes up, and to its horror, finds out that working-class minorities would rather have jobs than pats on the head from the kind of people who invented “LatinX” and tried to shove it down the throats of the Spanish-speaking community (that said community told them to get stuffed for trying, repeatedly, did not register until the 2020 elections rolled around and Team Blue discovered that they were losing huge chunks of minority voters they previously took for granted).

Team Blue owns all the institutions and has to either recapture its culture from its extreme left, or be defined by it…and then die as a political party as working-class and especially working-class minority voters stampede for the exits.

Team Red, on the other hand, faces a different challenge. Can it be populist without allowing their own barking moonbats nutjobs to define them culturally? And can they present an alternative to the extreme left which is wholesome and family-oriented, rather than aggressively ideological grating to those who might otherwise be amenable to rejoining family-friendly culture?

4-26-22 News of the World Update

From America’s Least Favorite Armchair Geo-Political Analyst To His Three Raving Fans

INTERNATIONAL

THE BASIC PLOT: Brettun Woods is dead or dying, and what the world turns into once the U.S. is done enforcing its “no empires” policy is an open question. The U.S. is serious about this — the post-colonial world didn’t happen by accident, but because in the late 1950s the U.S. let France and England know it wasn’t going to cynically wink at their attempted takeover of the Suez Canal, and were willing to make sure there were severe consequences should they keep pressing. So for the last 60 years, the U.S. has openly opposed imperialist land-grabs. How long that remains the case, or even how long the US bothers to keep the oceans safe to trade, is an open and ugly question the world is not ready to face, as most of America’s rivals would dry up and blow away tomorrow were the Pax Americana to be withdrawn from the world’s oceans. America is geopolitically exhausted and would much rather tell the world to just go get stuffed. That’s nightmare fuel for everybody else, who needs those trade routes and security guarantees.

  1. Russia’ invasion of Ukraine continues to go badly. It’s a massive strategic defeat for Russia regardless of the outcome in Ukraine, which isn’t looking fabulous. Germany, Austria, and Hungary, among the EU nations, remain seriously compromised by their politicians, who are essentially in Putin’s pocket. Germany’s ruling SPD continues to block heavy weapons transfers to Ukraine, Austria is moving to block Ukraine from EU accession, and Hungary’s government just generally parrots whatever Putin tells them to. It would be embarrassing were it not tragic. Meanwhile, Russia continues to try to destry Ukraine as a viable economic entity while pushing on the Donbas, while Ukraine trades space for Russian casualties while trying to get enough fuel and weapons in to push back while restarting its economy.

Finland and Sweden expected to join NATO in May.

  1. China’s locked down Shanghai and is getting ready to lock down Beijing. While this seems nonsensical to Westerners, most people in the west are missing something important. Chinese vaccines suck and have a success rate that is now in the high teens at best. Meanwhile, the average Chinese has significantly greater lung damage than anywhere in the Western world due to rampant air and water pollution. Beijing’s air pollution problems are well known, but it’s less-widely appreciated that a considerable chunk of China’s water is so heavily polluted that it is unsuitable for ANY purpose, agricultural or industrial, let alone safe for humans to use. At least half the country lacks safe drinking water. Think Flint, Michigan, on steroids.

That MATTERS when it comes to Covid, because the disease is hitting a population that is hugely weakened in respiratory and immunological terms. While Covid fatalities are almost always listed in favor of the existing comorbidity (heart disease, etc), the simple fact remains that Chinese immunity is low and the consequences of infection are staggeringly high.

This will have knock-on effects for the global supply chain that are every bit as significant as the Russo-Ukrainian War. And NOW they have human transmission of H3N8 bird flu.

  1. Japan, irked by Russia, is very close to amending its constitution to enable considerably greater offensive leeway legally. Right now, Japanese military planners have to navigate a paralyzing thicket of legalisms to perform almost any military-related task. In current circumstances, this will not do.
  2. Korea is buying missile interceptors from the U.S. in the face of ongoing North Korean missle tests. Japan and South Korea bileratal ties to be improved per both sides.
  3. Sri Lanka to receive a half-billion in financial aid from the World Bank, after its kleptocrats effectively robbed the country blind.
  4. France’s recent election essentially highlights have absolutely horrible its choices are. The neo-feudal Macron, or the neo-fascist LePen? France’s political scene is rotten, with nobody even pretending to represent the needs and interests of the average citizen. The yellow vests aren’t gone.
  5. Massive green hydrogen project in Argentina. Would be good, they need the energy. Latin American energy reserves are HUGE but they lack the money and expertise. Big investments could turn that around.

DOMESTIC:

THE BASIC PLOT: Political Realignment continues. Every 60-80 years, U.S. political institutions fall out of step with the needs of regular citizens, and politics gets toxic while one party gradually retreats into being effectively regional, and is then supplanted either by a new party, or a new coalition within that party. Currently, the problem is that the US has been governed as a technocracy for the last 60-some years, but the technocrats are increasingly brazen in pursuing their self-interest, often inept regardless of political party, and generally US citizens have no way to seek redress for policies they oppose. Point blank, the average American is significantly better-educated than 70 years ago, when nearly half of America didn’t complete high school. (One can argue for high school being meaningless in many districts, but this is a separate matter — point blank, the average American is or can become VASTLY better-informed across the board on basic issues than their grandparents or great-grandparents so long as they can avoid getting funnelled into hyper-partisan talking points. Increasingly, when the public calls out that the Emperor has no clothes, they’re actually right.

  1. Elon Musk has purchased Twitter. Sadly, this is actually newsworthy, as the social-media site has been a hotbed of hyper-partisan chicanery that has effectively been an in-kind donation to the Democratic Party for years: unlike Facebook, Discord, and other social media outlets, it’s publicly-acknowledged that Twitter has up to now been run by and for the benefit of Democratic Party operatives who are now terrified that extreme right-wing nutjobs like QAnon will now have equal status on the service with them.

Meanwhile, Musk is not exactly a conservative (as a major donor to and card-carrying member of the now quite-leftist ACLU), but he also refuses the progressive orthodoxy that Twitter has tried desperately to preserve in a venue where reckless and even defamatory gas-lighting has effectively defined the service. Team Blue Zealots adore it, most others consider it a dumpster fire to be avoided whenever possible. Will Musk turn it into a public square for discussion where every human is verified, bots are removed, and weighty issues can be discussed safely in public, as envisaged way back in Ender’s Game? Or will it simply turn into a different flavor of dumpster fire?

  1. Inflation remains “onerous,” to put it mildly. 20% YOY inflation in housing alone means that “HORRIFYING” might be another word. It’s clearly unsustainable and going to bankrupt everybody who’s not upper-middle-class and then some. Food in particular is set to go through the roof, since Biden is hostile to the petrocarbon side of the energy industry, and his advisors don’t seem to understand that the agriculture industry, from fertilizer to logistics, is priced directly downstream from the cost of energy.

This is a temporary phenomenon, for three reasons.
a) Europe now needs energy badly and so natural gas must be developed, or else Team Blue will have to watch Europe return to Russia for energy supplies.
b) Team Blue is gradually coming around on nuclear power, which will help somewhat.
c) Fracking is simply nowhere near as dirty as it used to be, as it’s matured in a bewildering number of ways, environmentally among them. Most environmentalist critiques of fracking are now easily ten years out of date in technological terms.

Team Blue will return to a pro-energy stance once it becomes clear that without doing so there is no getting inflation back under control: no amount of Federal Reserve Hijinks can prevent price increases when government actively sabotages (and therefore makes more expensive) required inputs such as fuel, lubricants, packaging polymers, and fertilizers.

  1. Electoral Coalitions.
    Team Blue is getting most of the mentions for a very simple reason: Team Blue is in power and calling all the shots. How it constitutes its political coalition for 2024 as its leadership, almost all gerontocrats, wind up having to retire simply due to age, will set the potential end of Realignment and the beginning of the new Party System for the 21st Century. Thus far, it’s more or less boiling down to Wokists vs Progressives vs Chamber of Commerce Plutocrats. The Wokists have full control of the commanding heights of most Team-Blue media (though a recent article in the Atlantic suggests that the ‘mere Progressives’ are fighting back hard, as it’s very clear that a Woke-Dominated Team Blue is going to get smashed flat in the 2020 midterms).

Team Red is still, meanwhile, divided between three significant groups: Rockefeller Republicans (going extinct, as most of the Team Red Base despises them), Trump populists, who are increasingly conflated with unhinged QAnon types but still matter because Trump is not a conservative but a 90s-style labor liberal, as are most of his fans, and DeSantis Fans, who trend conservative-to-libertarian. All three groups trend as rabidly anti-Blue as the Blue factions trend anti-Red. Get your news accounts accordingly, avoiding dumpster fires like MSNBC and Fox.

  1. The Federal Reserve has been pushed into a corner where it has almost no choice but to raise rates. Whether and how far will determine whether we tip over into full recession but begin to repair the stagflation, or if it’s more can-kicking until nobody can afford to live in an apartment any more.
  2. Heard about Covid lately? Neither have I, outside of Hardcore Deep Blue Enclaves where Fauci still has rock-star status. Most of America seems to have either gotten past it, or else decided to declare victory and just move on.

Populist Revolts Continue…

Aside from Ukraine fighting to keep Russia from erasing its identity, as it has tried to do so many, many times… we continue to see popular revolts all over the globe, from the Gilets Jaunes of France, to protestors in Sri Lanka and Peru.

The themes are broadly the same: global elites are really good at making bank for themselves, and also really good at scorning everything and everyone who doesn’t make money for themselves. They’re also really good at trash-talking anybody who dares say “could you please stop screwing over our lives and economies?”

This is only going to accelerate, and it will largely, as Peru’s protests have been, be blamed on “Putin’s War.” There’s SOME truth to that. But only some. It wasn’t Russia who spurred massive global inflation; he and his murderous orcs just added fuel to the fire. And it’s not Russia who picks favorites inside other country’s domestic economic arrangements in order to tilt the playing field solidly in favor of some groups at the expense of others, while proclaiming the natural ascendance of superior people in ways we decry when it was called “social darwinism” but seem fine with now that it’s “meritocracy.” (for America’s version, “Highly Educated White Collar Academia and Business against All Those Ignorant Racists and Fascists,” because it’s vastly easier to simply slander the people calling you out than to govern in a way that benefits the whole country).

Ruling elites do not like having their dirty underwear aired in public. They sneer at being referred to as corrupt elites, but they haaaaate being called out as incompetent parasites. Don’t expect these protests as a phenomenon to go away any time soon.

Further comments on the Culture Wars

Authoritarians are cowards.

There, I said it. Putin, Xi, Orban, are only the “big dog” examples of the phenomenon.

You see, strong people are not afraid of other people being strong. That’s the emotional weakling’s point of view. Most of the Culture Wars is emotionally insecure people (losers) terrified that somebody might be enjoying their lives without asking for somebody else’s approval, and being told that their failures are some amorphous “other peoples'” fault, rather than things they can fix. And you can readily find examples of that on the right, on the left, among the militantly religious, and among the militantly atheist.

Men do not feel threatened by strong women. Weak men are threatened by strong women. Women do not feel threatened by strong men. Weak women feel threatened by strong men. (If you live by alternate gender definitions or understandings, insert yours here: the principle holds regardless)

The mark of the emotionally strong person is that they own their own failures, learn from them, and go about improving themselves. And it is a noted characteristic of strong people that they love to help others become stronger, happier, and more capable, too.

If the person whose words you’re consuming is focused on tearing others down, rather than building others up, this person might not be somebody to take seriously for worldview. And when you find somebody who is building others up, regardless of what tribe they belong to?

Treasure this person. We need more of them.

And now a moment for the Culture Wars

One of the constants about the Culture Wars is “how much influence should X have over one’s opinions and culture?” Well, at the end of the day, everybody figures things out for themselves. Nobody serious takes athletes, politicians, used car salesmen, and “the twitterati” talking-head shills, regardless of their factional representation, as legitimate cultural influencers. Unless we’re talking about influencing things for the worse.

But I think it’s fair to say that when “X” is “Hollywood,” one should expect steaming piles of hypocrisy and garbage, and when Hollywood pushes something, the response should either be “run” or a belly laugh.

That’s because

Hollywood is a sex-grooming cult with a killer marketing department.

If that strikes you as too far, consider this: people are talking about Will Smith having to return his Oscar for slapping Chris Rock.

Meanwhile, Harvey “convicted sex offender” Weinstein is under zero pressure to return his, and Hollywood snickers at the idea that he might have to.

1. The casting couch is still real and still snickered at, and Hollywood powers-that-be of both sexes are absolutely complicit, showing no hint of giving a care unless it’s their personal oxen getting gored. Sexual abuse of child actors is rampant and an open secret, with numerous documentaries released on same… to overwhelming public silence.

2. Runway time: does the media cover dignified actresses and laud their immense skills? Or rave about how absolutely hot they are while go about in clothing and poses more suitable for the Vegas Strip at 2a.m.?

3. Hyper-sexualization of everything remains Hollywood’s stock in trade, to the point where Disney has literally picked a fight with the state of Florida over whether or not kindergarten kids should be talking about sex and sexual identity with teachers. (I’m neither Floridian, a conservative, nor a prude, but this is Human Development 101 – it’s for good reason that ten or eleven years old is when sex ed starts in schools… not six).

There are people in public life you can more-or-less trust to be honest and credible. Sometimes ignorant, daffy, or out to lunch, but honest and credible. Hollywood is not those people. Hollywood is a garbage place filled with garbage people who stand by and witness victimization on the regular, and who do nothing because it might interfere with their own meal ticket. Caveat emptor.

3.30.2022: War and International News

For my three raving fans. No U.S. domestic political news this update, as most of it is either vicious Culture Wars stuff or else pointless kabuki theatre lacking sufficient significance to bother with.

INTERNATIONAL:
1. Ukraine: The war grinds on. Ukraine is offering exceptionally-conciliatory terms in negotiations, which Putin then dunks on brutally. It’s all part of keeping France and Germany’s public sympathetic to Ukraine. Kyiv must go all-high-road all-the-time in order to keep Macron and Scholz’s hands tied, or else they’ll flip on the next dime in order to stab Ukraine in the back (again).

Meanwhile, global hunger threatens as already-existing global inflation and agricultural woes are about to see two major breadbaskets producing poorly this year. Mid-east hunger-related instability of the kind that wrecked Syria seems nigh unavoidable.
2. Congo: Congo is joining East Africa’s custom-and-trade union, which will give the landlocked nation badly-needed opportunities for commercial growth and access to Indian ports, and give Eastern Africans a vast and unstable but barely tapped market to play in. It’s a long-overdue win-win once they can figure out what languages will be used (French is spoken in Congo but not universally, and Swahili isn’t common at all).
3. Pakistan: Imran Khan is on his way out after he lost his mandate. As usual, it’s murky, and as usual, Pakistan’s support for terrorism, in the belief that they could somehow manage it and keep it from stabbing them as well, hasn’t worked out.
4. North Korea: North Korea keeps firing missiles, some of which explode, in order to assert itself. It’s failing badly and the regime is facing another year with widespread hunger and corruption-related malnutrition.
5. Middle East: The Arab-Israeli defensive coalition is ON again, now that Team Blue is predictably aiding the Iranian government in coming off sanctions (which threatens to give them enough money to keep destabilizing the region in Iran’s continued attempt to pursue empire). While the U.S. is unreliable that way (it’s unclear why the Democrats seem to love Iran’s theocratic thugs), the UAE and Saudi Arabia are very much looking to see if they can get a U.S. defense pact.
6. China has locked down Shanghai as part of its bewildering “zero tolerance” Covid approach. All part and parcel of the ongoing economic damage, one supposes.
7. Hungary: Hungarian elections are tight, though Fidesz has the undoubtable edge in the countryside, having largely squashed most non-governmental news. This matters because Viktor Orban is a known stooge of Putin’s, and his authoritarian rule is popular among some Hungarians (mostly bc the prior Socialist government was just THAT bad), but is clearly a kleptocracy. It’s a 3-pt race, which in the US would be almost too tight to call, but in a parliamentary system with tilted laws, means a clear Fidesz advantage.
8. Nigeria’s government acknowledging security deficit leading to Monday’s train attack and significant casualties. It’s a step in the right direction. Writ large, Nigeria is a success story chopped at the knees by corruption and insecurity.
9. South Korea successfully launches its first solid-fuel booster rocket to space. Go Korea!

Back to the Blogosphere!

Facebook chose to restrict my ability to use the service, “to prevent misuse.”

But… I don’t actually need to use Facebook. So… if they don’t want me to post, and don’t want me to comment…. why would I log in, really? So, they don’t want me to use their service? CHECK!

See, the thing is, Facebook’s bots and admins are basically a form of gas-lighting and emotional manipulation. It puts up messages like this, as if it were a parent lecturing a child. But if you’re not invested in the idea that you need to be there, it’s kinda risible.

So… goodbye, Facebook! Enjoy your slowly-dwindling userbase!

Armchair Assessments, p2, Russian Invasion

For my three raving fans.

An analyst is worth only the quality of their data and their predictions. On the Russian invasion, I’ve batted… about a C+. There *are* guys out there who have called this “to a T,” so it’s possible.

As an “armchair” absolutely non-pro guy, I’m pretty comfortable with my performance, though it clearly could have been better:

1. Called the invasion (and early).

2. Did not call the how of the invasion (because geopolitically it was insane and guaranteed strategic loss for RU regardless of military outcome — going this way forced Scholz’ hand in Germany. He and Viktor Orban are still doing all they can to mitigate EU responses, but public pressure is so large that there’s little he can do. Orban has less clout but a freer hand since he completely dominates the Hungarian media-space).

And I *should* have called this, because I *did* call the underlying ideological rationale being promulgated throughout Russian media and political press. I just… did not imagine Russia committing geopolitical suicide for ideological reasons. AKA, “Russ had a blind spot.”

3. Did not call RU operational decisions (I expected the north to be a holding attack while RU carved up Donetsk and Luhansk and secured the Azov coastline), because I expected Russia to engage in an invasion that would allow Germany and France some political air-cover/room to maneuver politically to fault both sides. This failure directly stems from failure to call #2.

4. Did call vulnerability of Ukrainian south and critical role of Mariupol (this was an easy layup for anybody paying attention), as well as the importance of Afghan and post-Afghan munitions delivered to Ukraine.

5. Did call UA willingness to trade space for time and fight a defense-in-depth across the South, while gradually securing the north and west to allow for the counter-pushes now happening. Did call how badly this would leave Mariupol in the lurch. Did not call the level of atrocities RU is committing there.

6. Did not call UA tactical successes, because I did not fully comprehend how the revamped RU military formations worked and how vulnerable they are attempting to take light infantry formations with adequate ATGMs in urban and semi-urban environments (recall that Ukraine had almost no anti-tank munitions during the initial phase of the war back in 2014, and yes, it’s the same war).

So: here’s my next call as an armchair guy with basic OSint data but that’s-it.

Call: Negotiations will go nowhere, even if Putin gets the chop, UNLESS/UNTIL:

A) Russia or Ukraine collapses

B) Russia replaces Putin with somebody who has the credibility to engineer an absolute surrender for Russia on political terms which they can survive (because for the reasons below, a simple “Putin’s gone, let’s call it good and waive those sanctions, eh?”) will not fly.

1. Zelensky cannot give away Donbas or Crimea and has never recognized the legitimacy of the Russian conquest of that territory in 2014. The Ukrainian body politic would reject him, and replace anybody who dared do so. Russia has already inflicted one genocide on Ukraine, and the brutal bombings, widespread attacks on civilians “under orders,” and ethnic cleansing of civilians in Mariupol makes this a non-starter.

2. Putin is boxed in. He believes that his ability to escalate to nukes gives him a “get out of jail free” card, but having called Ukraine horribly wrong (given #1 above), there is no compromise over Crimea/Donbas/Kherson, etc.

It’s a zero-sum game, and politically, he cannot afford to surrender. There is lots of armchair commentariat suggest that Putin is sick. He looks it. He looks *really bad.* Not really an excuse for ethnic cleansing and ordering the dismemberment and cultural elimination (“de-Nazification”) of a neighboring country, but possibly this is affecting his judgment.

3. Russia cannot win a protracted war where military and economic aid continues to flow towards its antagonist while it is increasingly sealed off from world markets.

Sun Tzu metaphors seem popular this year, so in Tzu’s terms, Russia is on “killing ground” geopolitically. Russia must either succeed to a point where it can dictate terms, or else face catastrophic ruin.

a) Russia is “Zaire with permafrost,” boasting a highly intelligent population hobbled by an almost complete lack of internationally-significant economic activity that doesn’t consist of either resource extraction or arms sales. A country which does not produce its own basic manufacturing widgets cannot suddenly produce them in the face of overwhelming sanctions. Even aluminum, a major export, is about to get hard for Russia due to Australian sanctions on bauxite, etcetera. Most of the Soviet and Russian manufacturing reputation is literally built upon foreign expertise and/or imports (ironically, a lot of which has been Ukrainian).

b) Recall that this isn’t the Soviet Union or Imperial Russia, with its tiny elite ruling over an immense agricultural population. Its demographics are hugely unfavorable – Russia isn’t “China old” yet, but it does not have scads and scads of young men to draft and throw into the field en-masse, and has commited 2/3 or better of its total military power to the war already under circumstances where his ability to produce new arms has just gone to “nearly empty set.”

4. China is absolutely horrified. Not of Ukraine — we’re talking about a country engaged in not one, not two, but THREE slow-motion genocides — but of the West forming an economic wall and demonstrating “yes, if pushed too far, we can and will refuse to trade with you regardless of the pain that causes, while you crash and burn.”

Ergo: China will not ride to Russia’s rescue, and while it doesn’t at all mind Russia becoming a Chinese satrapy in the future as an Iran-like pariah state dependent upon the Chinese economy to survive, it minds a LOT the idea that “the West” has suddenly grown a spine and demonstrated that it is willing to endure economic pain to enforce at least some “hard lines.”

5. Russia cannot surrender except at the cost of an absolute top-to-bottom reckoning of the sort Germany had to engage in after WW2, and Russia’s official culture makes this impossible. This would require either an outright admission of defeat by Russian society at large, or a Putin successor with sufficient authority and credibility to make it stick.

Russia’s culture is imperialist from top to bottom, constantly fabricating a badly-mythologized version of WWII which eliminates guilt for starting WW2 by stating that the war began in 1941 and arguing that Russia/the Soviet Union is responsible for “Saving Europe from the Nazis.” But “Nazi” has now come to mean “literally anything which stands in the way of expanding Russia’s current culture to the limits of the Soviet *and* Imperial Russian spaces” (including Hungary and all Orthodox countries, including Bulgarian, Serbia*fn*, and Greece). Hence, when ethnic minorities plead for the chance to use their native languages in local interactions, this is denounced by the Kremlin as “Nazism.” Russia is not “racist.” Russia is *hilariously racist,* to the point where it openly resembles the ethno-nationalist fascism of which it constantly accuses “the West.” The many dissenters from this mostly live outside of Russia now, but Russian support for this ideology is high, as was support for ongoing military aggression prior to sanctions.

*fn*Serbians are in a bind, because Russia has by historical terms been very good to Serbia, and it’s likely that their relations would simply continue status-quo-ante

ERGO: the war will continue and probably escalate regardless of what anybody “wants,” as it is a zero-sum game and a simple “palace coup” by FSB successors will not suffice to end the conflict, because neither side as currently constituted is able to return to Status Quo Ante, because for Russia that means “return to Jan. 2022,” and for Ukraine it means “return to 2013, plus return of kidnapped populations and payment of vast reparations as recompense for the millions of displaced persons and billions of dollars in damages.”

  • What’s today again?

    August 2022
    M T W T F S S
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 138,065 hits
  • Recent Comments

    happycrow on Back to the Blogosphere!
    Andrew on Back to the Blogosphere!
    happycrow on The Palpatine Desk, Editorial:…
    happycrow on The Palpatine Desk, Editorial:…
    WHMorgan on The Palpatine Desk, Editorial:…