October 1, 2014

On lawful elections

Chess Champion Garry Kasparov says ISIS is a diversion for the world to focus on. And while he doesn't suggest a specific creator of that diversion he does name who stands to benefit from it: Vladimir Putin, whom he calls the world's "biggest threat to global unrest."

Kasparov, who once expressed interest in running in the 2008 presidential race and who has in recent years become an anti-Putin activist, avoided the question of whether or not he would seek public office. Instead his response was a sobering one: "We should forget about power in Russia changing hands throughout the election process. I'm afraid it will be not a very lawful process and it may eventually end up with the collapse of the country."

Lawful, shmawful.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:38 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2014

Throwing snowballs at cars

That's the memory that returned to me yesterday as I read accounts of pro-Russian Ukrainian "separatists" who gloated over shooting down a military transport for an hour or so, before discovering it was actually a packed civilian jetliner. "Oh crap, we're really gonna get it now" they might have thought upon discovering the unintended "collateral damage" of their unsanctioned tomfoolery.

Ukrainian intelligence has pointed to a fighter named Igor Bezler, the militia leader in the eastern town of Gorlovka, saying in an intercepted phone call that his men had “shot down a plane” on Thursday. Several assassinations are believed to have happened under Mr. Bezler’s watch soon after his forces took Gorlovka, and he took responsibility for killing a number of Ukrainian militiamen in the town of Volnovakha some weeks ago.

According to Russian Internet sources, he was born in 1965 in Crimea, and studied in Russia. He served in the Russian military but moved back to Ukraine in 2003, where he began to work as the head of security for a factory in Gorlovka. Biographies also note that he had worked in a company that performed burial services but was fired in 2012. He has been wanted by the Ukrainian authorities since April 2014.

Mr. Bezler’s nom de guerre is Bes, which in Russian sounds like the first syllable of his last name, but also means demon. There are rumors that Mr. Bezler does not get along with other militia leaders, and that he has had street battles with the Vostok Battalion, though rebels have dismissed those allegations.

In a slickly produced video called “Heroes of Novorossii,” the name of the self-declared insurgent region, Mr. Bezler was shown wearing a light blue beret. He had blue eyes and a long mustache. In a recent interview with the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, he claimed to be holding 14 Ukrainian soldiers hostage and said that the Ukrainian military had fallen apart, “much like the condition of the Russian military in the early 1990s.”

In the interview, Mr. Bezler said he was a Russian passport holder but had a residency permit in Ukraine. He said he sang the national anthem of the Soviet Union every morning, and usually went to bed around 10:30 p.m. He confirmed that he had worked as head of security for the Gorlovka factory, and claimed that he was fired from the burial services company over a fight with the local mayor who he said was demanding bribes.

Two questions:

1. How does a shiftless ex-Russian foot soldier wind up commanding a sophisticated SAM battery that is capable of destroying spy planes above 70,000 feet?

2. How does this part of the story wind up at the very end of a 1000 page news article? Because: NYT.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:58 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2014

Snake Oil Wizardry, and the Unreliability of Curtains

If it's okay for President Obama to continue with his fundraising schedule in Delaware at the same time as the Malaysian Airlines 777 shoot down is playing out, [President GW Bush could not be reached for comment] it must be okay for me to also post this "racist, bigoted, homophobic right-wing shlockumentary" clip showing a disenchanted Obama supporter after learning what coffee smells like.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:16 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Okay, somebody's going to have to say it, I guess I'm handy... Why, why, why?

This includes some very interesting film. Ms. Joseph is unexpectedly charming and intelligent compared to expectations from the "gas and mortgage" clip that we've all seen. You can retroactively put that in context, that she thought her life would get easier, not that Daddy Sugar was going to pay her mortgage. Her turnaround is captivating.

Buuuuuuuuuuut nobody is going to see that, because any thinking person will be frightened away by the Wizard of Oz clips. I don't think I qualify as President of the Obama Fan Club of Weld County, Colorado, but I find the sickle/hammer and the Oz clips repulsively childish. I've seen the logo and thought I would never watch a minute.

Now -- lookit! -- I have watched two minutes, twice. But can you imagine sharing that with anybody who was not a rabid partisan?

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2014 7:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well, it is a "racist, bigoted, homophobic right-wing shlockumentary." I did warn you. Just warn your thinking person non-rabid partisans as I did for loyal ThreeSourcers. Now, if you share it with a rabid partisan of the pro-redistribution pro-egalitarian pro-Obama pro-Wizard variety, you'll deserve whatever reaction you receive.

I was turned off a bit by the hammer and sickle too - clearly not as much as you - but I found the main content incredibly compelling. This despite obvious clues that the interview was not "cold" i.e. it had been agreed to and rehearsed a time or three. But she clearly believes what she says: "I started getting a little more educated about politics and reading more. What I learned is never trust the wizard. It's within ourselves to have the determination, the courage, and the brains, to bring us to our destiny." And it is a videographic production. Do they not require some symbology? What other image can be used to depict the qualities I listed above, besides the Soviet one? A dollar sign in a circle with a line through it? As for the wizard metaphor, I think it is perfectly apt. That's what I think.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2014 12:16 PM
But jk thinks:

We ThreeSourcers are a hardy breed.

I do thank you for sharing -- I would've never seen it otherwise and I did find it compelling. My grousing was that I probably will not share it because anybody rational and thoughtful enough to get something out of it would be more repelled by its failings. As hockey players are judged on their +/-, I have to call this one a -2.

Could it be fixed? Perhaps not. It is designed to be ad hominem and not a treatise on Lockean principles. It strikes me as the equivalent of the nonsense I encounter on Facebook from my lefty pals -- does some of that have embedded gems as well?

A little sermon for the choir, I suppose.

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2014 2:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"...anybody rational and thoughtful enough to get something out of it would be more repelled by its failings."

Words can be so hurtful.

At least I didn't post this. KOA Denver's normally straight-laced Mike Rosen did.

At some point we need to be willing to offend someone. Or must all lemmings be left to suffer the same fate?

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2014 4:57 PM

March 27, 2014

CFR: Puppeteers behind "the establishment?"

With the presidency of George W. Bush, American constitutionalists and other liberty advocates learned that even Republican policies can promote big-government liberalism, central planning, and other ideals previously thought the exclusive domain of Progressives, Marxists and others of that ilk. With the TEA Party movement of 2010 came the identification of "the establishment" as the source of such anti-capitalist, redistributionist, mercantilist tendencies in the party we all had believed was the only real counterweight to Democratic socialism in America - the GOP.

Such talk has been dismissed as conspiracy theorizing, tut tutting it's speakers with dismissive rejoinders like, "Just who exactly is this great 'establishment' of power brokers who control the Republican party?" I can't answer that question definitively but I will nominate a prime suspect: CFR, or the Council on Foreign Relations. Their fingerprints can be traced to, among many others, Egypt, Benghazi, Cuba, and now, Ukraine.

Employing the indispensible insight and analysis provided by Golitsyn and the detailed information in his books, it is difficult to view the orchestrated chaos that has been unfolding in Ukraine without recognizing unmistakable evidence that it is being directed along a pre-planned path toward EU-U.S.-Ukraine-Russian convergence. Putin’s role is to rattle the sabers menacingly enough to frighten reluctant Ukraine to join the EU, while also convincing American and EU taxpayers to be forthcoming with the foreign aid and IMF funding that will “rescue” Ukraine and avert a war.

And, after the hyperventilating CFR policy “experts” move on to their next project and things settle down, we will look around to find Putin and his oligarchs carrying on business as usual with the new Ukrainian government and its oligarchs — as well as with the Obama administration and “our” oligarchs.

What does this have to do with the GOP, you might ask?

During the Bush administration, Nuland was the principal foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney (CFR), a committed “Republican” globalist who boasted at a CFR luncheon that he had successfully kept his CFR membership secret while a congressman so that his conservative constituents in Wyoming wouldn’t find out. Cheney has joined John McCain (CFR) and other interventionist Republicans in stirring the Ukrainian pot. Prior to serving under Kerry, Nuland served Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is not herself, formally, a CFR member (although her husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, both are), but who in a speech to the CFR infamously referred to the CFR as the State Department’s “mother ship” and confessed that the State Department looks to the CFR “to be told what we should be doing and how we should think.”

Which gives substantial support to the popular notion that "there's no significant difference between Democrats and Republicans." On the level of foreign relations and federal government, it seems more true than not.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:59 PM | Comments (8)
But johngalt thinks:

I clearly bit off a very large bite here. I see the outlines of a web that connects many issues that have at times seemed perplexing and I floated it here as a combination early warning, breaking news, and sanity check. The first return appears to be, I'm insane. It deserved much more care than I was able to give at the time so I'll work on developing it into, as Jasper wrote in a pre-9/11 article, "bites of the elephant." Yes, he does have a John Birch air about him. But just because he's paranoid...

I took the "Republican" scare quotes to mean that Cheney believed his party bonafides were threatened by his CFR membership.

It's true that a degree of dot-connecting is required here since CFR has not, to my knowledge, issued a press statement that they are covertly working to establish a world government of hoi oligoi that can manage the lives of the hoi polloi, and conveniently enrich themselves in the process. But let me complete the alternative picture that you find to be a more simple explanation:

CFR is nothing but a social club composed of retired world leaders and high-level bureaucrats with nothing but the purest of intentions and no desire to influence government policy in America or any other nation, nor any desire to inflate their collective individual bank balances. Transitioning from an office of power and influence back to a position of near irrelevance is effortless for every single one of them. And Hillary Clinton didn't actually suggest that CFR tells the State Department what to do and how to think.

I may be lost in the wilderness in this line of inquiry, and honestly hope to find that I am. But too much of it is so imminently plausible to dismiss it out-of-hand.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2014 3:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Just finished the Weekly Standard piece on the Condi speech and will note that the associations listed for her included NRCC (not the Senate Conservatives Fund) Mitt Romney (not Ron Paul) Mitch McConnell (not Rand Paul) and a Karl Rove GOP primary candidate, although Sarah Palin has not yet made an endorsement and the 2010 primary winner Joe Miller lost his last statewide bid. These are not proof of a CFR plot but they are all establishment figures.

Now, I do agree with Condi that America's defense budget should be large enough to support a strong and well supplied military force but I do wonder what that has to do with Ukraine? When she says, "What are we signaling when we say that America is no longer ready to stand in the defense of freedom" what is she speaking of, exactly? Ukraine? Iraq?

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2014 3:26 PM
But jk thinks:

I'd never call you insane. There is indeed a lot going on here.

Were you to replace the nefarious CFR with "State Dept. Striped Pants Bureaucracy," we could probably sing Kumbaya and crack a couple of those German Pilsners. Yes, there is an entrenched apparatus -- I think it goes back to some John Quincy Adams appointees.

And of course Condi is establishment; I suggested her view as a coherent explanation of the CW, Muscular, Establishment, Republican position. Her particular field of expertise was Russia/Soviet policy.

I part with many of liberty friends by being sympathetic to this view, but I think the world needs American leadership and I think the globalization and wealth creation I champion require a bit of "pax Americana" to get those iPad parts between 42 countries.

If my grouchy meter got set off, it was your last paragraph. As a guy who hates war (it interferes with prosperity), I think it invited by weakness. I'm not calling for Slim Pickens to mount up and ride, but I think we could advocate for freedom and respect for sovereignty. I would permit drill sites and LNG export ports. And I would not have pulled missile defense sites out of Poland to begin with.

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2014 6:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for clarifying. And there is much room for clarification all around this subject.

I think we'd agree that CFR can be viewed, at the very least, as the SDSPB - Senior Tour. The extent of their fingerprints on policy is debatably somewhere between "advisory" and "puppet master." We'll not get into where, exactly, on that scale. At least for the moment.

Let me choose just one assertion to discuss further: "I think the world needs American leadership and I think the globalization and wealth creation I champion require a bit of "pax Americana"..." I think there is more than one way to lead. The best American leadership is the example of private industry and free trade on a worldwide basis. The worst American leadership is choosing sides in the affairs of other nations. Like the fifty states, some may choose to become democracies or totalitarian states and provide the world their example. Trying to build democracy from the outside is like trying to teach a pig to sing. I'm all for patrolling the high seas with an American navy, but can we stay on our side of international borders please?

The closest we have today to a Nazi death regime is in North Korea, yet I see nobody advocating an invasion there to "defend freedom."

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2014 5:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The more I find to complain about in our federal government, the more I am sympathetic to foreign nations complaints about same.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2014 5:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Any objection to my "bumping" this post to give it more time? We haven't done foreign policy since that cowboy was in the White House.

I'm thinking my blog brother has gone "Full Rand Paul." And that is a coherent, rational, and defensible belief.

I see Russian incursion into Ukraine as a much closer cousin of "piracy on the high seas" to be opposed than the meddling and nation building which we have both grown to reject. When was the last time a sovereign nation was invaded, occupied and subsumed by into the conqueror's borders? That's not rhetorical -- I do not recall. But I suspect the last time it happened, I was too young to be drafted instead of too old.

You, me, and the Junior Senator from Kentucky agree on the power of freedom. I wish the President had whipped out his pen and approved the 24 LNG exporting stations awaiting certification, then fired up his phone and called Angela Merkel and David Cameron with promises of energy. I like that a lot better than some warships in the Black Sea.

But there is clearly a level where we do not find comity. I'd suggest that Poland redeploys missile defense.

I actually compliment the President (whoaaaa) on the sanctions and the general direction of his rhetoric. Reforming the G-7: well done, sir. I'd suggest not going to the World Cup, but that's 40% because it is boring, and 60% to punish Russia.

We're left with few good options -- I think Sec. Rice's point is that fecklessness and apathy bled the arsenal of options. Going forward, President Paul should trim the military of its obligations on the Korean Peninsula, Germany, and any theatre where we are not in actual hostilities. But -- as to shrinking inside our borders -- I think we invite aggression (cf., Atchison, Dean) and threaten global prosperity (cf. Lal, Deepak).

Posted by: jk at March 30, 2014 4:14 PM

March 11, 2014

Post to Polis: Frack Off

Pinch me!

Still, the more gas is available worldwide, the less leverage Putin will have in bullying neighbors and in talks with European powers such as Germany, which also depends on Russian gas.

That's the Denver Post Editorial Board speaking. And if that doesn't sound enough like the words of Republicans Cory Gardner and Rand Paul [starting at 5:00], among many others, the Post continues:

Not everyone agrees, of course. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., was among 20 House Democrats last fall who wrote to the energy secretary expressing concern LNG exports "would lead to greater hydraulic fracturing activity," which is probably true. But we would hope most members of Congress appreciate that fracking can be done safely, and that America's new energy bounty offers a huge opportunity to assist pro-Western governments abroad.

Read more: Liquefied natural gas as a geopolitical tool - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_25314888/liquefied-natural-gas-geopolitical-tool
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse
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Take that, Democrat.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:18 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

What do you expect from a party that would nominate an "anti-civil rights, anti-choice, anti-marriage equality" troglodyte to the Federal Bench?

Polis was on "The Independants" last night (Libertario Delenda Est has its own TV show and it is Purdy good). The topic was Bitcoin and he gets a sympathetic audience on the show. He can point to great libertarian bona fides.

Yet he gets a pass on his reliable votes for dirigisme because he pens the occasional liberty-friendly OpEd.

Posted by: jk at March 11, 2014 11:56 AM

March 3, 2014

The real reason Putin wants Ukraine

Much has been made of the Russian naval base in the Crimea region of Ukraine, which Russia has a long-term lease upon. Why send troops to protect other troops? So the cover story is "to protect ethnic Russians" an excuse at least as old as the start of World War II. Sudetenland, anyone?

But what hasn't been reported, until this morning, is the vast network of natural gas pipelines in Ukraine, where about 80% of her neighbors get their natural gas, sourced from Russia. But the stakes are even higher for Ukraine herself, as she gets 65% of her own natural gas from Russia, who has not been shy in reminding them who's boss. Consequently, Ukraine has been working toward construction of compressed natural gas (CNG) terminals in Odessa, Ukraine, for the purpose of free trade consumption on world markets. Perhaps this taste of freedom is something Putin can not stomach.

Commander Victor Vescovo, USN retired, writes in Real Clear Defense:

The key to Ukraine’s energy independence from Russia and, therefore, its ability to determine its own political future lies in Odessa -- the city, its port area and energy infrastructure, and the access to Black Sea it provides. Crimea is likely lost. But if Ukraine is to survive, all of its current focus should be on Odessa and preventing any Russian movements against this vital region from Crimea, Transnistria, or Russian territory.

Cdr. Vescovo outlines a fairly simple strategy to protect Odessa but also explains, with the help of a map, that Odessa, like Crimea and eastern Ukraine, is majority native Russian speaking.


UPDATE: From Investor's - Seven Energy Policies to Make Putin Pay Over Ukraine, Crimea

1. Start fracking in Europe
2. Expand fracking in the US
3. Promote LNG exports
4. Allow U.S. petroleum exports
5. OK Keystone XL
6. Expand, not contract, nuclear power in Ukraine
7. Unify Cypress and build a new pipeline

"Finally, smart energy policies also would undermine other energy autocrats around the world, including Venezuela." And Iran.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:55 PM | Comments (0)