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So after getting her ass soundly beat by Raphael Warnock, Georgia’s Mrs. Moneybags Kelly Loeffler went into the banking business.
With a fun twist! It was a Christian bank.
I regret to inform you that this endeavor was a failure. She couldn’t find the funding to keep it afloat.
It even had a great name, if you’re an idiot: GloriFi.
Loeffler’s plan was to have an “anti-woke” bank (whatever that fucking means anymore) that held values near and dear to her (which is highly unlikely, Loeffler is just looking for suckers to get richer off of)-“pro-America values such as capitalism, family, law enforcement and the freedom to ‘celebrate your love of God and country.”
That doesn’t sound authoritarian at all, but I suppose no harm can be done getting your fascism on while you are filling out a deposit slip.
Whether she believes in it or not is immaterial-that there are many people who believe in and are clamoring for these so-called “American values” is worrisome enough. But I guess perhaps not too worrisome, seeing as how a grifter like Loeffler couldn’t gather enough rubes to open a zero interest checking account in her bank.
On Wednesday, I mounted a minor defense of the polling industry. I did so because I looked around and found them wanting, but I have to say, I found unprofessional people with hunches even wronger.
As the number of R-flipped seats in the House continues to climb, we are approaching poll prediction territory. It is still not anywhere near a rout, but once all is said and done there will probably be enough for that dipshit McCarthy to claim a mandate.
Disbelieving polls to me is like disbelieving in science; once you stop listening, you are doing nothing but alchemy and falling back on faith when you predict. Every skeptically minded person should watch, listen and let the professionals do their work. People on social media keep screaming in caps “STOP LISTENING TO THE POLLS!!!!” not because they are wrong, but because they are not being told what they want to hear. Thoughtless people completely forget things like margins of error-that’s a pollster’s admission that based on their sample size, there’s a good chance of wobble one way or another.
I have a short, simple message as we wrap up the counts for people to consider next time we do this.
Follow the polls with a watchful, curious mind-also, follow the news and consider what that might do to the numbers. Understand that there is a strange mushy middle that breaks one way or the other the day of the election. But do not get into the forecasting business unless you have the requisite credentials to do so. I’m just telling you for you own good, and hopefully your friends will forget the dumb uninformed calls you made and not wonder what else you might be wrong about.
I am what you might call a guppie in the Twitterverse. My position and standing in Internet conversation has been fairly constant over the years that I have used it to communicate. I’ve run a couple of blogs over the years, and occasionally I would hit pay dirt and draw people to my site because a bigger blogger took notice of something I said. Soon after, I would slip back into obscurity. I like writing, but I don’t have the education nor the discipline to be “someone”.
And so it goes on social media for me. Especially when it comes to Twitter, the so-called “public square” where people meet to discuss ideas. But you have to be quick! It’s not like blogging at all. You don’t get to ramble longform, you need to limit your participation to about three sentences. Once in a blue moon, I say something that goes somewhat “viral”, where thousands of people look at a tweet I’ve composed.
Well, I went somewhat viral (for an account my size) a few days ago, from a simple reaction to another tweet. Here is what I reacted to:
My reply was simple and mostly glib, but I have started a minor firestorm about our failures to educate people. All I said was:
To me, it seems absurd that someone in that generation (likely a boomer) hasn’t got clue #1 about what a communist is. They spent half their lives feeling existentially threatened by them, so my question is, why do they know nothing about them?
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I can’t believe how often I have to explain this, but there is NO FUNCTIONING “FAR LEFT” IN AMERICA. IT IS A FIGMENT OF YOUR STUPID IMAGINATION IF YOU THINK OTHERWISE.
We’ve all watched how communism has not succeeded in bringing about a worker’s paradise. We know logically and empirically that communism is not the inevitable result of the decline of capitalism. To date, no one has done a very good job of bringing forth a humane revolutionary state that ends private control of property and production. Not even close.
Now let me stop you right here because I know what you are thinking: oh great, another idiot who thinks reflexively that “communism only works on paper”. I will not discard the ideals of Marx so blithely; in these modern times nothing is more plainly obvious than the fact that we have become economic animals, fighting between each other for position through possessions and money. The moneyed and the propertied among us would like to stay that way, and if it means that people die in the streets of the richest country in the world from hunger and lack of shelter because of it, oh well, so be it, they were useless workers anyway. Especially this nouveau riche class coming up- they have no taste and no sense of noblesse oblige at all. Young rich fucks like Elon Musk skirt their obligations to the society that hosts and nourishes them by being “cash poor” and living on gigantic loans that are untaxable. And when government comes up with a novel solution to obscene wealth hoarding like an unrealized gains tax, an entire political party is paid handsomely to make sure it never happens.
But anyway, people really wanted to talk at length about my little response. It’s been 48 hours and I am still watching some interesting conversations from a few dozen people. About a thousand people responded in some way or another to the tweet. This tells me that it may be a burning question that lots of people are asking to themselves, just as Shrub did, perhaps using better English.
So how long have we been stupid? Where did things go horribly wrong, and was it and is it by design?
I suppose the people who wind up picking up the tab for public education might think that they deserve a little say in what is being taught. But that’s not how a public service functions; once tax money is out of our hands, it goes, or should go to general welfare of some sort. However, our government today is sharply divided about this idea. Half of it thinks we can use government funded initiatives to enrich all through smart planning and smart thinking; the other half thinks that those people are “elites” who want to tell individuals what to think and do or some such nonsense. We don’t even know why they are in government because they detest it so much. Furthermore, their candidacies are funded by actual elites with billions of dollars in PAC and dark money to flood the political system with their influence. They are obsessed with an ROI, because that is how they think ALL of the time. Everything is transactional to rich people.
Cui bono? Not me? Fuck you, then, is what they are saying to us. And sometimes, that value system rubs off on the more brutish of our kind.
How are we supposed to run a society based upon this idea of extreme self-centeredness? There’s nothing like it in the primate world, as far as I know. Naturally, all orders have their peculiar hierarchies within a social system, but at least they have a system. The far-right (which does exist in America) would like to do away with this idea; some intellectuals believe it’s an evolutionary advance for us to be such individual creatures. The idea is a joke. Everyone is dependent on someone or something, I don’t care if you are the idea man or the laborer who brings the idea to life; we simply cannot get anything truly great done without each other. You can have freedom of conscience and still serve your fellow man, these ideas are not mutually exclusive. Look up “interdependence” if you don’t know what I am saying.
The end state of anarchy is oppression and likely, slavery or serfdom. Libertarians don’t seem to understand what a vacuum is. Or maybe they do, and are good with the basic savage laws of nature that we have spent oh, I don’t know, 40,000 years or more trying to protect ourselves from. It will go from liberty to authoritarian oligarchy in six seconds flat. Your little 2A pea shooters will not do much good against the army and police they purchase that will most surely grind you down.
Equally bad is fascism, which, funnily enough, is unwittingly promulgated by the very same people who preach radical individualism. Once again, the end state of the participants will terminate in them being crushed under the weight of the state and some raving lunatic with a silver tongue pining for good ‘ol days that never were. I don’t want to go Nazi here but it’s a readily available comparison. Hitler’s brownshirts were not unlike our new angry set of conservatives, and once the fix is in, our useful idiots will be discarded much like the brownshirts once they have outlived their utility to the so-called strongman that ascends.
And so we have tried an interesting middle ground to maximize freedom: to govern ourselves in a way with the aid of sage representatives. We decided a patchwork of differently behaving states would be far more preferable than an overarching government making nonlocal decisions for them. Our experience with the British crown soured any interest we had in an intrusion into affairs from up above. We tossed together a founding document after the revolution ended, and it worked poorly.
Enter the vaunted Constitution. Modern conservatives’ relation to the Constitution is pure irony; it was literally created to exert more control over the states. At the same time, a separation of powers was introduced to confound the activity of the government. Enshrined within was something relatively novel; guaranteed rights that are natural. However, let’s step back from the document and look at it as a whole and it is a severely dated compact that has not been updated properly and in the absence of fixing it to change the times, we use the judiciary instead to add meaning to the amendments which were not intended. Don’t get me wrong; if we’re not going to fix the Constitution, this is the only way to keep it current, by new legal reasoning. All the more reason to be careful who makes it into office, as it is the politicians who select these opiners, because even the judges can suffer from myopia or be inappropriately political.
In any event, promoting the general welfare, an oft-forgotten clause in the Constitution, is the point of it all- the idea of the more perfect union, not 300 million people in a rat race to get their piece of cheese.
I happen to feel that public school is a way to show the direction to that better place of union. But perhaps it has been ill administered from the beginning.
Note: this is a HIGHLY abridged glance at a few inflection points in our education system.
Protestantism has been hugely helpful in the pursuit of public education; after all it was they who insisted that the laity should have access to the Bible without interpretation by the clergy. It would take another post for me to discuss how Protestantism helped so many lose their way and become splintered over dogma. I’m probably not qualified to discuss it at length anyway. But for the sake of argument, they helped make us literate. In the 19th century, public schooling exploded, funded by tax dollars. Things went well-school became compulsory, and a bureaucracy was formed to standardize learning. Parochial schools existed, but were denied the use of public funding, as they should be. No one should have to support a religion centered education.
The Second World War interrupted progress in education, sending many teachers and students to fight and die. LBJ is the poppa of reordering 20th century education, though. In his War On Poverty, he sent extra federal dollars to struggling locales. He spent money to train an army of professional educators. We spent money on art, foreign language, and even mental health care at school. One of the things buried in his education act though, was that there be no attempt at a national curriculum.
This, to me, was a serious mistake. We are the United States. Furthermore, as I have said elsewhere, a “state” is a highly artificial concept, whose borders are drawn at caprice. There is nothing special about an American state as a unit of a federation. Doing things 50 different ways or more seems to me to produce lopsided outcomes for people stuck between arbitrary borders. I’m sure there’s lots of dumbshits out there who think this is a good way to create a fucking “laboratory” for democracy, as if experimenting with a thousand ways to run things is a great idea at this late stage in the game of federalism. We should be pointing towards perfection (in the abstract), but we seem to be dissipating and atomizing instead. Sometimes our labs are full of toxic fumes and you can’t afford to get the fuck out of the building to breathe. Our fixation on the marketplace as the only context where anything can be considered has caused us to be obsessed with the idea of “choice”, inserting it where it is unneeded.
Then, asshole Reagan came along, and institutionalized the very problem I outlined above, declaring blatantly that”government is the problem”, ushering in the era of the politician who wants nothing more than to stand in the way of other politicians trying to do their job. States were free to do what they wished without federal input. Obviously inequality in outcome was the result, as states and locales were now free to mismanage their educational system and damn near anything else in the manner they chose. We’ve made some attempts since his misrule to bring back accountability, often through wrongheaded ideas like using standardized testing and charter schools as a way to supplant so-called “failing” schools, which has only served to put teachers and administrators on edge and make them meet a milestone in a timely manner rather than teach, but on the whole we have just strengthened the idea that local control is best, and that a state knows better than a federal bureaucracy comprised of experts, thinkers, and protectors of institutions.
Since the deregulation of the school system, it has seen its funding slashed, its teachers discouraged, and its curriculum narrowed. Homeschooling by ignorant parents is on the rise. Other parents are demanding to pore over teacher plans and accuse them of brainwashing their students. We’re banning books from the school libraries. Socialization and empathy skill teaching is verboten. The secular nature of our system is under attack. Teacher pay is abysmal and a lot of prospective educators don’t know if it is worth all of the student loans they would have to take on to go into a system that makes them miserable instead of inspired. This is what local control has wrought.
Most people that responded to what I had said believe that there has been a purposeful long-term attempt to make students dumber, to make more docile, manageable workers. The wave making, drop-outing and near street level chaos of the intellectual student movement in the 60s must have shaken a few deep-pocketed families, and it’s highly likely that they are trying to prevent it again by not teaching our young about fairness, justice, empathy, civics, history, economics, philosophy-all of that good stuff is now hiding behind wildly expensive paywalls. Many veteran teachers took umbrage-which was certainly not intended. Teachers are not the problem AT ALL.
The idea that twelve years of school really only prepares you to be an average worker has been with me for a while, and right now, that is more unacceptable than ever. Had we done a better job educating in those 12 years, we wouldn’t have grown people begging for fascism and ersatz independence while screaming batshit about communism that isn’t being proposed. No one would have listened to the trash coming from the radio and the TV if they had been properly educated to realize what it was- and I’ll call it what it is-mindless hate speech. Now we have even more trouble emanating from the Internet, where all your prejudices can be validated with a coax connection and a mouse click.
Am I asking for some collectivism? Yes. I probably am. But that’s a far cry from communism. It’s just organization. No need to get spooked about it. It’s common sense. A complete, perspectivized education will not stop you from being “free”, in point of fact, you will have a better jumping off point than before if you know some very important fundamentals. No good teacher, and no sane parent wants to tell children what to think. Rather, they want students to get used to learning how to think. Let’s teach kids the best of what we know, tell the whole truth as best as we can, trust our professionals, fund public education fully, and then watch them soar. It would be supremely gratifying to once again see a generation do better than the last.
The Internet is such a fucked up thing, a true paradox. It is the largest repository of information on the planet. You would think this a good thing…yet the people who use it seem to be getting dumber.
Let’s talk a little bit about people who think that when they look for information on the Internet, they are performing “research”.
You know these people. They are legion. They are all around you, believing some of the most insane shit you can dream up. Not knowing much about how the real world works, they construct fantasy worlds based on ignorant, paranoid biases they have. They have consumed so much information confirming them, that they actually see themselves as authorities on a matter. And they’re not, because they aren’t trained to be one. Yet every fucking person these days always has something to say about everything. It’s tiring. I’m sorry, but rare is the true polymath.
Let’s be clear: Experts are the only people who should be conducting any sort of “research”. And many of them constrain their expertise to one subject, as any knowledge base can be ridiculously complicated and is in constant evolution.
Most of us drones can read a book and maybe really digest a fourth of it. Even less will be able to spit out the contents of what they read to a fellow human. Shit, sometimes I can’t say anything about a TV show I just watched. Hardly any of us commoners are doing any structured “learning”. The best of us can merely familiarize ourselves with a subject. So it is with the Internet. We can read all we like and still not know a whole lot. But then we get super offended when all of our “research” gets questioned.
That’s not the way to wisdom. Having your beliefs challenged is really the only way to actually “learn”. In other words, looking for what might be wrong about what you think you know is the key to possibly knowing anything at all. That requires a bit of humility most people do not possess, though, especially if you are dealing with someone who thinks that just because they have access to the biggest journal/encyclopedia in existence it makes them somehow learned.
I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology. The theory is painful to comb through, and that is a lot of what you have to get through to make it past your sophomore year. A favorite professor of mine gave up the goods on why we needed to dig up fossils like Emile Durkheim. “It’s really just to torture you the way we were tortured.” I believed her. You also get introduced to the world of statistics, which I actually found fun. Some of my fellow classmates were fucking insufferable, though; like I had this one class in stats where the textbook was filled end to end with studies. Now, this book’s purpose, from what I could tell was to help us learn how studies are structured, to immerse us in the world of what we can learn from surveys and data. Yet for some reason, the class devolved into “how can we pick apart this study and declare it invalid?” Students got hung up on dumb shit like sample size. If it was deemed not high enough (it was always an arbitrary number that varied from student to student), it was a bad study. That’s not how this works, though. You can sample or plot 20 points and get a mean that suggests a correlation in one direction or another. Yes, you can sample 40 and be more accurate, but it’s really the difference between say, 90% certainty and 95%. There’s tests you can perform that give you confidence values. What I’m getting at is that the picture is the same, it’s just slightly blurrier when you work with less data.
Anyway, four years is what I survived. Did that mean I was well-educated? Was I a sociologist, or one in training? Looking back, I’d have to say no. Nowadays, bachelor degrees are not held in high esteem by employers. Everyone wants the grinders who stick with shit for eight to twelve years. I wasn’t able to do that for several reasons, but one was that I don’t think I could have bullshitted my way through graduate level work. I didn’t want to anyway. Sociology could be fun and fascinating, but I was never destined to be an expert in it.
I’m getting a little sidetracked, but the point was is that real education takes place in educational institutions, and real expertise gets conducted by experts. Reading the Internet for the average schmo should be like reading the morning paper-oh, here’s some interesting news, hey that’s a cool subject, hm, I didn’t know that, let me find out more, wow, they did what? Basically, keep the fuck up. Be active when it is necessary. That is your civic responsibility, nothing more. Now it’s a little rough out there, because major media gatekeeps for or is outright owned or manipulated by the moneyed and the powerful. But there’s a lot of people doing journalism for journalism’s sake. Good stories and portals are out there, and real journalists have been telling inconvenient truths. Did what you read make you mad? Excellent. Did it change your mind? Awesome. Did it add perspective to something you are interested in? I’m all for it.
This “research” epidemic, however, is for fools. It’s just ducky to Google or Wikipedia a subject you just encountered, I encourage that behavior. What is not sensible is consuming a lot of information/bullshit on a topic you aren’t an expert in. You can easily be misinformed, for one thing, if you don’t know how to check your sources. That is something that typically an expert would know how to do. And confirmation bias, as far as I can tell, is habitual in this fucking species. Starting with a conclusion is absurdly common. I think X is happening, and since I have a giant library at my fingertips, there’s a good chance I can definitely find evidence for X being true. Even science itself is guilty of this.
I dunno. Maybe some people are just raised berserk, and it’s best to leave them be if we are creatures of mercy. But I grow weary of it. For me, everything I “know” is in a state of flux. Does that bother me? Honestly, no, it doesn’t. There are things about this objective reality we will never figure out. (Then again, I haven’t tried DMT). It’s cool, that’s what it means to live, especially as a human. Uncertainty is part of the package of survival. “Research” and “figuring things out” isn’t going to make me feel existentially better.
They say everyone needs something to believe in. Maybe. And I suppose in our virtual world of connectivity, that’s easier than ever to find. In that sense, the Internet peddles millions of faiths. We want so badly to be special, we want to know we are part of the Correct, that we are In. Maybe in our atomized society this is all we can do anymore to remain cohesive, share our ridiculous faiths through an invisible ether. I’m out of answers.
Perhaps know yourself first before you go knowing anything else. I think some wise weirdo advised this a long, long time ago. I think he was killed for giving it to people.
I’ve taken quite a vacation from watching Tucker Carlson. His show has devolved in a way I could never imagine. Used to be a time when, however wrong he was, he’d have guests on to have a contentious fight with. I don’t think anyone remotely credible wants to go on his show anymore, though. Now it’s all just hair-on-fire end of civilization commentary that probably only serves to scare old white folks.
Today, let’s highlight a couple of his latest conspiracies. This would be twice now in a span of perhaps a month that suggests that the Biden administration is trying to use drugs or the non-use of them to “control” the population, a familiar Tucker refrain with about zero basis in fact. Here’s Tucker saying that nicotine users have more mental acuity (debatable) and therefore a ban on Juuls is going to make men soft and stupid:
Not long after, he’s howling on a Brazilian beach about how government and corporations don’t want people to have families because they are still trying to help women obtain safe abortions and that the government might put SSRIs in the water supply to keep people happy:
Yes. That’s airing on a major cable “news network”. Not to mention that it’s one of the most popular shows on television. It’s no wonder this country is going to the dogs if this is in the diet.
UPDATE: More drug talk from Tucker. He’s alleging that school “counselors” are handing out “psychotropic” drugs all over the country. This is patent bullshit of course, as is the use of a scare word that most people don’t know. Then he mentions SSRIs again. I have news for Tucker; it’s not 1985 anymore; there’s SNRIs, tricyclics, tetracyclics, typical, atypical antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, a panoply of drugs that go way beyond the promise of Prozac that doctors are prescribing more and more these days. If you are going to scare people, get fucking up to date with your nonsense, asshole.
The news is moving faster than fuck, and I cannot stay abreast. But two occurrences must be stressed since most of you have been apoplectic over the lack of accountability for obvious coup plotters and the perceived inaction of Merrick Garland.
Everyone needs to calm the fuck down. The J6 committee is doing its job, and so is the Garland DOJ. It’s often misunderstood that when and if Democrats lose the House in November, the J6 committee will be shut down by Republicans. That’s simply not true; it has a self imposed termination date well before the election. It will complete its work and send all findings to the DOJ for review. Equally untrue is that Merrick Garland’s DOJ will cease to exist after the election. I don’t know how some people got this in their head but he’s got at least until January 2025. That is a long time from now, in case you have not noticed.
As I observed a month ago, The J6 committee took a hard bite out of John Eastman’s ass for not turning over a batch of 100 or so emails that he and then-president Trump exchanged. Eastman tried the usual play-that they are protected under privilege. A complaint was filed, and the return from a federal judge was, in most people’s words, “scathing” or “shocking”.
First, with respect to whether Trump tried to obstruct an official proceeding, which is, of course, a crime, Carter concluded it was “more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.” As Carter highlights, in our government “leaders are elected, not installed.” And yet Trump tried to “subvert this fundamental principle.” Second, and relatedly, Carter determined that given the evidence, “it is more likely than not that President Trump and Dr. Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
Surely all of you realize the gravity of this judge’s opinion. Not only does it order Eastman to cough up the emails, it will be the first time a judge has implicated Donald Trump in criminal activity on January 6th. So, I assume Eastman will try to appeal this, and if he loses again, his pleas may end up at the Supreme Court, where historically, no one on the bench has shown any interest in shielding Trump or abetting him in any way even though he’s appointed 1/3 of it. So somewhere down the road, it seems likely we shall see what Eastman is trying to hide-it could spell the end for Trump. UPDATE 4/6: Eastman took it no further. J6 has the emails.
On a separate track, like a burst of sunspot activity, the Garland DOJ has issued what could be dozens of subpoenas from a grand jury for records on suspected J6 planners, financiers, and conspirators. After quietly nailing an Oathkeeper for knowingly conspiring to overthrow the government by force and getting him to take a plea deal to roll on anybody he could, Garland’s now in overdrive, working on the next level of the puzzle. No one particular individual has been subpoenaed, or charged except for Joshua James.
Many of you have gotten accustomed to the idea that a subpoena is pointless, that it has no consequences. That’s because you’ve probably seen one too many people ignore them from the January 6th committee. But these work different. Failure to cough up documents will land you in jail.
Get used to the idea that Garland is going to keep a poker face on until this is done. Do some reading on the guy. He is the opposite of what you are all thinking. He is not to be trifled with.
UPDATE 4/6: The hydra that is the J6 riot is WAY bigger than any of us think. Hundreds of people could be in the hot seat for this stunt.
Sometimes I feel pretty fucking clever when I’ve sussed out that America is about to enter into its second dalliance with fascism and its characteristics. It will be Christian, white, and male-centric. Like Jello Biafra said once, it’s bedtime for democracy and there is no telling when it will wake up.
Now it’s awfully hard to believe that Steve Bannon, who looks like some weird mixture of Baron Harkonnen from Lynch’s Dune and a wino, is of any particular threat to American democracy. It’s almost hilarious that he has Mike Lindell on his “War Room” on the regular. He’s probably facing jail time soon, depending on how much he pisses a judge off by turning his contempt trial into a media circus.
However, as far as the right wing goes, he’s the daddy-o of American neo-fascism, or populism, or nationalism, whatever you want to call it. And when he fell out with Trump, he moved on to bigger and better things. After the White House, he went abroad to spread the populist word, powwowing with right wing parties, dictators and autocrats around the globe. He’s a Putinist, and I guess now is a great time to introduce a notorious living Russian fascist, often referred to as “Putin’s Brain”, Aleksandr Dugin. (More on the Dugin-Putin relationship here). The guy appears to be completely insane, a mad monk advocating for a Russian empire that stretches all the way to Ireland. I am sure that Putin, while a little touched in the head himself, listens to Alex’s counsel, smiles in his mind, takes the good parts and leaves out the absurd. He did come up with the idea of annexing Crimea, and thinks Russia should treat Ukraine as theirs, which they have done de facto by invading and robbing Ukraine of its ability to trade freely. I’m not going to get into an argument with any of you chuckleheads out there who seem to have no clue about military tactics and realpolitik, the end game of this invasion is that Russia gets good cream and lots of political leverage over the rest of the world from Ukraine’s food and energy markets. And there isn’t shit the West can or will do about it. (UPDATE 4/2: Zelenskyy isn’t giving up territory for peace, and NATO is now sending deadlier assets. He’s either going down with the ship, or this is going to be Afghanistan II: The Return Of The Bear Trap.)
Anyway, back to this character Dugin for a minute. He is quoted as saying, “We, conservatives, want a strong, solid State, want order and healthy family, positive values, the reinforcing of the importance of religion and the Church in society”. Sound familiar? That’s word for word what the Republican Party in America has come to stand for. Coming from the mouth of a Russian fascist. A “traditionalist”. Democracy, liberalism, and individualism are all anathema to his thinking, a refutation of the principles of America’s revolutionary ideas. He said of Putin as early as 2007: “There are no more opponents of Putin’s course and, if there are, they are mentally ill and need to be sent off for clinical examination. Putin is everywhere, Putin is everything, Putin is absolute, and Putin is indispensable.” It’s not dissimilar to the cult of personality that surrounds Trump, or any other “strongman” who can control people. The main difference between Putin and Dugin, is that one is pragmatic and one is a romantic. He wanted Putin to take Georgia as well as Ukraine. Putin took the chunks he could hold, probably knowing from Hitler at Stalingrad that when you spread yourself too thin, you will get your ass kicked. He believes that COVID is a “kind of divine reprimand, a divine decree against humanity.” and “It is a kind of punishment for globalization.” Dugin attacks the arts and the schools for their decadent thoughts (again, sound familiar?), even finding physics and chemistry to be “demonic”. The man is a mystic, looking for signs of the apocalypse.
So let’s circle back to Bannon: what’s the connection between him and Dugin? Well, they met once, in 2018, in Rome. While they agreed philosophically, the meeting did not go well, as Dugin was focused on the United States as the great evil, and Bannon felt it was China. I guess we should be glad they did not agree or join forces, but the idea that America is engorged with “evil” is becoming chapter and verse for more and more Republicans, no doubt to Putin and Dugin’s glee. We will be rid of Steve Bannon soon enough. But if we continue to share a traditionalist fascist destiny with Russia, then I am afraid the world over will become a dark place to practice freedom.
It may be time to take a fresh perspective on why Russia has recklessly invaded its neighbor Ukraine. In our hearts, we see what the war has wrought and we know it is wrong. Because war disgusts all good people. What gives Vladimir Putin the right to continually attack his neighbors without consequence? Why doesn’t somebody do something to contain them?
In his mind, history accords him that right. But I don’t think Putin is operating from a pre-WW2 mindset, as he is often accused of doing. I don’t even think he’s operating in a 2014 mindset either, Because he’s been taking little chunks from other countries for years before the Ukranian revolution. Where is Putin coming up with the justification for annexation and invasion?
In today’s carefully managed defense of territorial integrity, annexation by force is a highly unpopular move. In modernity, anyone who tries to pull it is severely disciplined by the world community. Saddam Hussein learned that when he tried to begin his ideas of a Greater Arabia by annexing Kuwait; he ended his quest dangling from a hangman’s noose. Slobodan Milosevic also had dreams of a Greater Serbia and committed genocide to achieve it; he too was executed for his crimes. The only country in the world who has not been punished for annexation per se is Israel. That’s a complicated one because the Palestinians never declared statehood, so the view seems to be that they are taking no sovereign territory. However, their occupation of the Golan Heights is definitely straining the definition of occupation and pushes closer to annexation as they continue to hold it, year after year. (UPDATE 4/6: Papa Chomsky reminded me that Trump allowed the official annexation of the Golan Heights. Oops!)
However, in the case of Putin, it’s very hard to discipline him. A bombing campaign will not stop a Russian advance, nor will a counter-invasion of Ukraine. Russia, you see, has nuclear weapons. A lot of them. And they have made it clear that any move that threatens the existence of the state will be met with annihilation. So we have to be very careful how to play this one. And the world has been. We have been pouring every low intensity asset available we can into Ukraine to make this invasion super painful for the #2 military in the world. There’s two ways this invasion can go: one is to turn Ukraine into Afghanistan II for them. This, like Afghanistan, could take years and kill millions. The other is for Ukraine to cede control of hostile areas around Ukraine that are Russian-friendly and end this terrible siege.
The second option disgusts many. Who would countenance the loss of territory like that? Would the United States cede states, as some are fond of saying?
In our case, the answer was no. But we paid a dear price to preserve our Union in the years of 1861-1865. People are still arguing about why it happened. To my mind, it was about consolidating and retaining power. Since 1776, America worked and warred its ass off to become and remain The United States. And I figure Lincoln wasn’t going to let a perfectly good union go to waste after cultivating it for almost a hundred years.
In contrast, how long has Ukraine been Ukraine? How far do you want to go back? Empires wax and wane, so let’s just start with modern Ukraine. They had a revolution in 2014 which would eventually skew Ukraine’s ties closer to Europe. As you might imagine, Russia didn’t like that at all, for reasons I’ll try to address later. They saw the revolution as a good a time as any to return Crimea to Russian control. No blood was shed, and the Ukrainians relented and allowed Crimea to become autonomous, protected and run by Russia-friendly leaders. But peace was not established yet. War broke out in the Donbas region, and two pro-Russian separatist states declared their independence from Ukraine. This time Ukraine was going to fight for its territory and subdue the rebels. And up until February 2022, they were still at war. But as we all know, Ukraine had bigger problems than Donbas. Russia began to surround Ukraine with its military, and here we are today, wondering whether World War 3 is going to start.
Ukraine had only been Ukraine for eight years, if we take the various separatist movements into account. It was a country in revolutionary flux, and Putin picked a good time to weaken it and make it something unpalatable and indefensible to Europe.
Or so he thought. We may not want to start a nuclear war, but most of the world, respectful of territorial sovereignty, has made sure that Russia will be punished by playing an old conventional game of violent imperialism. And we’re doing it without directly causing a single casualty at our hands.
There’s a lingering question though: what does Russia really want from Ukraine? You can find it in today’s papers. It is, as it has always been, “the special operation”, which Russia has invented some bullshit reasons for. Now it may look like Russia wants to eat Ukraine whole and return it to old Russia, but as you can see, they’re not getting very far if that is the plan. It’s purely a strategic move; to connect Crimea to the Donbas breakaways via land. Contiguity is what Putin wants, plus he wrests access to the Sea of Azov from Ukraine. I believe any military action not in Donbas is to distract and disperse the Ukrainian military so that it can no longer defend its eastern flank. What is the crown jewel in the special operation? Where does the connective tissue between these little secessionist republics begin?
Mariupol. As I write this, Russians have kidnapped tens of thousands of its civilians and is demanding that the city surrender. What Volodomyr Zelenskyy decides to do next will probably determine just how long Ukraine remains under siege. This is a flashpoint. Let’s say Russia wants to make a deal-ending the invasion for the surrender of Mariupol. Can they be trusted? To me, the answer is yes. They can see damn well that this war is not going to plan and they are probably eager to get back to some semblance of normalcy and deal with all of the economic, political and military fallout from the incursion. Putin will have paid heavily for his land bridge if this is the direction Ukraine wants to go. No one is going to “win” the battle for Mariupol. But as of now, Zelenskyy is holding firm, refusing to give up the city. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it will not be pretty. And if anyone really thinks the West is going to do anything about it, they’re kidding themselves. Because the reality is, Ukraine was like a DMZ to the EU and NATO. This war is still on “cold” setting, and will likely stay that way so long as Russia blunders around in the DMZ. That is a tragedy for Ukraine, and I hate it. They’ve been caught between two power blocs and a newly adventurous Russia.
So, let’s circle back to the question of just where Putin’s head is at and what year he thinks it is. To do that, we must look at the recent history of the EU and NATO, and ask ourselves if we too have been “annexing” countries by pledging to defend them. Are we playing the imperial game as well? Did World War 3 start without a shot several decades ago? In Putin’s mind, this is undeniable. For the EU and NATO, their goal is simply to defend democracy. It’s probably a bit more complicated than that. It seems obvious that the goal is to hem Russia in, ending its influence upon the states that surround it. We did that during a time when Russia was at its weakest. Just like we finally came together to bring Germany to heel, ensuring it would never be a threat to Europe again. Nothing remains of its Nazi past for continental domination. This is what we wanted from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. To ensure it would be crippled so it could not threaten the world with its weapons of mass destruction.
But Germany had to be utterly destroyed for us to stop the Nazis; it was not the way we defeated the Soviets. The USSR fell to internal pressures; we just sat back and watched it happen. A deal was made between Russia and NATO in 1991 to dissolve the Warsaw Pact, and in return we would not accept former pact members into NATO. But that’s exactly what we did. The US and the Eurozone, to Putin, were “annexing” its old stomping grounds.
1991 is where Putin’s head is at. That was the year he quit the KGB and began running for office. Like it or not, he turned the country around in a lot of ways. I imagine he had grand plans to “Make Russia Great Again” and that’s what he thinks he’s doing right now. His own personal Monroe Doctrine. He’s been fucking with its neighbors ever since, trying to amass more territory and more power where he can. Whenever he sees chaos, he exploits the conflict. He saw the conflict in Ukraine. Trying to pull Ukraine into Europe’s orbit was a last straw, and he’s going to make the fledgling government pay for its eagerness to do so with land loss. And it’s doing it through old conventional imperial techniques like force. Whether he pulls off this special operation is unknown. Ukrainians have shown themselves to be tough as nails, but now we have to worry about hostages.
In no way am I excusing Putin’s actions any more than I am blaming NATO for its actions. But it’s important to dispassionately look at the possible “why?” for the invasion of Ukraine and armed with that knowledge, figure out how the hell to make it stop without blowing the world to kingdom come.
I’m going to attempt a triple lutz here and try and answer a much asked question these days: how the fuck do we stop buying Russian oil?
Well, I’m afraid the hard answer is to stop our insane hunger for oil itself. We’re talking about a massive restructuring of the energy mix in the United States. Solar. Wind. Maybe a little nuclear. Obviously there is no such thing as eliminating petroleum use, it simply makes too many products that are useful and necessary to modern life. But we could also learn how to travel more responsibly. More mass transit like buses and rail, and perhaps electric cars that are affordable.
Joe Biden and the Democrats tried to begin this restructuring with the Build Back Better Act. It was stomped by Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin. It would be my guess that all of these creeps are on the take from dirty industry, who by the way, are enjoying the Russian/Ukrainian war. You see, uncertainty makes markets do funny things, and war and all the economic sanctions we’ve thrown at Russia have caused volatility in the oil market, causing it to reach heights above $100 a barrel. There’s also renewed demand from a wind-down of the COVID scare, and not a lot of supply out there to meet it. And no one in the oil industry anywhere has any interest in increasing supply because they are enjoying record profits. This includes American oil producers, believe it or not. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen, but our dumbassed free market system allows it.
Now what would happen if we shut Russia out of our market? They are the #2 producer of oil in the world and have plenty of gas for themselves. They are in the export business, and we get about 3 percent of our oil from them because of our thirst for the stuff. Chances are, if we drop Russia as a supplier, we’d see more pronounced pain at the pump, and increased prices due to higher transportation costs. That’s not good. Survivable, but not good. It’s also politically difficult because people have been propagandized to reflexively believe it’s all the president’s fault. But consider the plight of Europe, who is under direct threat from an expanding Russia. They import sixty percent of their oil from Russia. Talk about being fucked. The simple fact is, no one with an advanced economy can kick Russia out of the global market. I suspect they will find other takers for our 3% if they are rebuffed.
No matter how you slice it, the lesson we all must ultimately learn from the Russian/Ukraine war is that we need a global energy revolution. As it is, we’re heating up the planet, but the turn away from fossil fuels has geo-strategic importance. If we can just have some resolve to change the way we live, we don’t have to rely on tyrants for fuel. It could even stop American militaristic adventures for black gold, which means more happy mothers whose sons didn’t die for a lie.
I like the sound of that.
What with the twin blights of Omicron and the invasion of Ukraine, sometimes it’s easy to forget that a bunch of maniacs overran the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. It’s retreated to the background; there have been no referrals for criminal conduct besides contempt coming from the House January 6 Select Committee. The attempts to make sense of the attack have slowed or stopped. I’m no longer seeing too many people trying to piece together the chain of events.
Joshua James, a 34-year-old Arab man, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. The maximum penalty for each crime is 20 years in federal prison.
As part of his plea agreement, other charges against him were dismissed and the government agreed to not charge him with any additional crimes in connection with Capitol breach. James agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and testify in future court proceedings regarding the Capitol riots.
Here’s where it gets juicy. We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that part of that crowd came for violence to delay the certification of the election. Was it part of THE plan? Et tu, Roger Stone? We may know more when this cretin starts singing.
The seditious conspiracy indictment alleged that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, James other co-defendants and others conspired to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021.
In his guilty plea, James, a military veteran, admitted that, from November 2020 through January 2021, he conspired with other Oath Keeper members and affiliates to use force to prevent, hinder and delay the execution of the laws of the United States governing the transfer of presidential power. He used encrypted and private communications, equipped himself with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and was prepared to answer a call to take up arms.
Ten more of these huckleberries will be facing similar charges in the future. One of them is the leader of the Oathkeepers, Stewart Rhodes. Sedition charges are rare-but it underscores how serious the threat was to our government that day. We can only hope that they can tell us more about whether or not they were encouraged or instructed by other actors. Perhaps they operated as a cell, free to plan their own mayhem. Then again, if they blab about coordination, maybe we get some evidence on someone nearer to the Trump circle.
It’s a new day for the truth about the 6th.