Saturday, December 23, 2017

Vladimir the Fool

Pity Vladimir Putin, sympathy for the devil as it were.

His meddling in the 2016 American presidential election didn't work out too well for him. First, it didn't swing the election to Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton lost the damn thing all by herself. Next time, she should campaign in Wisconsin, really. And yet, Putin gets the credit for Trump's victory in many circles, notably among the American Left.

No, Putin didn't win the election for Trump, but he got him anyway, which turns out to be pretty bad for old Vlad. Worse, this was entirely predictable. You don't need to be a KGB trained agent to assess that Donald J. Trump would be an America First kind of president, ever eager to press every advantage America has in her arsenal.

Start with energy. No, not the kind that Hillary and Nancy and Chuck would push. Trump has doubled down on carbon energy; anathema to the Left, it fuels the Russian economy. Putin's power depends on oil and gas exports, a power he wielded as a cudgel over Europe and others — until recently. America's shale revolution (aka, fracking) has cut the legs right out from under him, a development that Trump is eagerly empowering and that Hillary would have hobbled.

One example: The day America dropped out of the Paris Climate Accords had to be a dark one in Moscow, darker even than in Hollywood, San Francisco, Brooklyn or Boston. In those leftie American enclaves, it was an ideological affront. In Moscow, it was an economic disaster, the consequences of which will redound for the next decade, at least. Why? America's shale bounty - oceans of oil and a century of gas - has upended the old world order of energy, upon whose heights Russia perched, with Putin a kingpin. He's a kingpin no more, just another peddler of a suddenly much less valuable commodity.

Then there's the matter of Russian incursions into Ukraine. Fortunately for Putin, President Obama refused to ship even small arms to the resistance. Not so the Trump administration, which is providing a range of arms to the Ukrainian military. That's gotta hurt, doesn't it Vlad?

Over at the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley has become a Churchillian figure during her first year representing America and American values. Russia continues to lie down with dogs in both the Security Council and the General Assembly, but their mangy affronts hardly disturb Haley's calm and muscular articulation of American purpose and resolve.

Let's not forget Crazy Kim in North Korea, who both Russia and China kinda like just for the disturbance he causes the United States. But Trump ain't having it. He didn't create the Kim crisis in NoKo. It's been festering for 60 years, heading for the inevitable conclusion of the Kim regime being able to threaten the world with nuclear weapons, or not. But Trump and his very able SecDef (Jim Mattis) are not intimidated, which must be a shock to the system of the bully boy in Pyongyang, and to his tacit fans in Moscow and Bejing.

Lastly, consider President Trump's recently announced National Security Strategy, which truthfully states that both Russia and China are “attempting to erode American security and prosperity” while also seeking "to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.”

Further, it seeks to address "revisionist powers, such as China and Russia, that use technology, propaganda, and coercion to shape a world antithetical to our interests and values". Feeling lucky punk, er, Putin?

How could Vladimir not have seen this coming? It appears that Trump's jedi mind tricks worked on the old KGB bastard, just as they worked on Trump's presidential primary opponents, on the Clinton campaign, on Crazy Kim, on the NFL, and on pretty much all of polite society. Yet, Trump's domestic opponents don't have as much to lose as Putin, who is in danger of losing the world, his world anyway. Now that's an epic miscalculation if ever there was one.

Let's give Russia its due. When it comes to larger than life leaders, they don't go small. The country that gave the world Peter the Great has now bequeathed us Vladimir the Fool.

That's worth a toast! Vodka all around.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What Could Be Done

There is an overwhelming clamor about what should be done in the wake of the latest spectacular atrocity by the world's Islamists. Herewith are four things that could be done. Are they the only things that could be done? Hell no. They're not even the first.

  • Personalize the Perpetrators: This flies in the face of how we want to handle domestic nutcases who shoot up public places, but is appropriate for the malefactors of quasi-organized and centrally inspired terror. The world needed to know Hitler by name in order to stomach the hell it took to see him dead and sent to hell. Thus it's less about the useful idiots who blew themselves up at Stade de France and more about the big dogs who inspired them.
  • Popularize the Crusade: Yes, it is a crusade. There is no more appropriate word, so what if it pisses off the Islamists. What are they gonna do? Shoot us. Popularize it by producing a video series documenting how Islamists in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and elsewhere subjugate girls and women, kill gays, eject Christians from their ancestral homes and destroy ancient temples. Get 1,000,000,000 non-Muslims and 1,000,000,000 Muslims to watch the videos. Yes, that's half the Muslim world. Mark Zuckerberg will figure it out. Fighting the power of Islamism will be much easier after those 2 billion views.
  • Cancel Their Cards: ISIS warriors in Western cities shouldn't be able to charge things. No ApplePay for them. Cash only. Syrian guys who can only pay cash will stand out in the big city, now more than ever. Make it tough for them to get or send money and you'll make it tough for them to operate for more than brief periods. How to do this? Visa, AmEx and Mastercard will figure it out. Does this cross a line? Old Abe Lincoln would have approved, if he had had an iPhone.
  • Let the Dogs Out: Islamists hate dogs. Hate them! Canine saliva is kryptonite to an Islamist. Hmm, just think of the K9 Special Ops that could be employed knowing that. If this gives you the heeby-jeebies, good thing you weren't called to fight in World War II or the Civil War. Those wars were ugly.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

People Have Changed More Than Guns


Guns have changed.

More powerful, easier to shoot and much easier to shoot in bursts.

But people have changed more than guns.  After all, guns have been widely circulated since the Revolution and yet mass murders were rare until recently.  Nor have all the mass murders in the recent scourge been committed with assault rifles or other advanced weaponry.

Mass murderers damn near grow on trees these days.  Not really, but you could be forgiven for thinking that way.  The NRA says that gun crime is down, which is probably true but misses the point of the legitimate hysteria over mass gun violence.  The point is that it's a new and unacceptable phenomena to not be surprised by mass murder in public spaces. Let alone on a regular basis.

Why is this happening?

First of all, it's happening because most of these mass murderers train for years on highly advanced mass murder simulators with names like Call of Duty and Doom and Halo 2.  Sitting alone or alone together with other Zen-like practitioners, they learn to calm their nerves, shoot for the head, drop empty magazines and reload without missing a beat.  Mass Murder Simulators, oops, First Person Shooter games gained mass popularity in the early Nineties, some 20 years ago.  Twenty years is a generation, a generation that now ranges in age from Junior High to High School to College to Young Adult, the cohorts from which are drawn most of today's mass murderers.

But it's not just First Person Shooter Games that are injecting mass psychosis into the body politic.  It's also the Golden Age of TV that we're now experiencing.  Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, True Detective: these and other dramatic series are rightly heralded as breakthroughs in Boob Tube entertainment.  Devotees, numbering in the tens of millions, regularly invite their friends to share their addictions to favorite series.

The pitch from a fan to a newby generally includes a conspiratorial lowering of the voice, followed by a grave warning.
"It's dark, really dark."
Now I stand in a glass house regarding dark entertainment, given my not infrequent macabre enjoyment of action and crime movies, especially action-crime movies.  However, even the most heinous movie comes and goes in a couple of hours.  The mass murder celebrations known as Cable Crime Dramas are ten, twenty, thirty and sometimes fifty hour injections of sociopathic ideas, imagery and intensity into the waiting synapses of their millions of adoring fans.

Some in that audience aren't going to process it all very well.

Is this to say that a given mass murderer can blame his crime against humanity on a TV show or a Mass Murder Simulator?  Certainly no for the former, mostly no for the latter.

It does mean that people have changed due to mass stimuli that's hiding in plain sight.  First, they consume a diet of sociopathic entertainment on TV that is vastly more vivid and increasingly more twisted than ever before in human evolutionary history.  They also hone from a young age their ability to calmly conduct mass murder.

Guns are simple compared to people, making the change in guns less profound than the change in people over the two decade maturation of the Mass Murder Generation with whom we're now living.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Speech We Need From President Obama

President Obama on the Nigerian schoolgirl kidnapping:
The West has been at war with Islamic Terror for two decades now, a full generation: not a war we chose, but the one that's fallen to us.  Every generation of Americans has its burden.  This is ours.

Islamic Terror has a long history, but first struck America in '93 when acolytes of the Blind Sheikh bombed the World Trade Center.  Attacking low, they killed many but didn't topple even one Tower.

9/11 was the signal day for Al-Qaeda in particular and Islamism in general.  Most Muslims don't support terror as a tactic.  Islamists do.  They embrace recruiting young people - little kids even - to blow themselves up so long as they take out lots of infidel. That is evil.

Islamism is evil because their strategy emphasizes the killing and maiming of innocent civilians.  Terrorists aim for collateral damage.  Their motto is Collateral Damage R Us.

Islamism perverts one of the world's greatest religions, a cancer at its core that will take great leadership to defeat.  Leadership from where?

Leadership from within the Muslim Community hasn't been richly forthcoming, to put it charitably.

Leadership from the Infidel World, er, the rest of us, has been unsteady, uncertain and intermittent: not our finest hour as it were.

Two hundred Nigerian schoolgirls changed all that however.  This hostage situation galvanized the entire world just as it galvanized me.

So I sat down with President Goodluck Jonathan, because I'm that kind of guy.  Plus my Father's from Africa, as you know.  Mostly, I recognize that a setback for Islamism on the world stage would be a major victory in our war against Islamic Terror - Hard Power delivering Soft Power benefits.  Thus I had American interests squarely in mind.

"Goodluck," I said, "We've got an opportunity here to do the world good, do Africa good, do Nigeria good and do those innocent girls good.  We're gonna team up my best troops with your best troops, like teaming up NFL All Pros with NBA All Stars, with Google behind 'em."

What could he say?  I'm offering SEALs, Deltas, U.S. Marines, whatever the mission requires.  Speaking of mission, America's troops are eager for a clearly defined mission with such a rightly heroic goal.

Boko Haram has done the modern world the favor of exposing some of Islamism's most hateful elements.  Haram means forbidden.  Boko means Learning, for girls and about Western ideas especially.

Boko Haram targeted schoolgirls because Islamists think they shouldn't go to school.  That makes this a girl's and more generally a Woman's Rights story, even though it's primarily an Islamism story.

Boko Haram must be defeated and I, Barack Obama, am the President to do it.  It's time for the good guys to fight back.  America has been the good guy before, more times than any other nation ever.  We can again.

I will stand in the well of the Congress and ask my fellow Americans to follow me into this fight.  It's not one we chose.  It's one that fell to us.  The Greatest Generations rise above such enemies of freedom.

Our generation can rise to greatness. If not us, who? If not now, when?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Flagrant Foul

NBA fouls come in two classes of severity: Fouls and Flagrant Fouls.  L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's apparent racial rant reaches beyond the upper realm of Flagrant Foul.  A Flagrant Two foul mandates immediate expulsion from the game.  If the recording of Sterling's voice is substantially accurate, it counts as a Flagrant 3 or a Flagrant 4 or even a Flagrant 5, worthy of expulsion from The Game Itself.  In short, a transgression so severe as to be worthy of fouling out of the league.

In any case, the Sterling Situation is a deeply saddening and entirely slack-jawed incident in modern American history.  Yes, American history, not just NBA history or sports history.  Sure it doesn't rise anywhere near the level of fire hoses turned on Civil Rights protesters.  Yet it is so out of time and out of place - coming as it does on the heels of another elderly yahoo's stupid and savage comments about race last week in Nevada - that it is a signal moment in the apparently never-ending fight against racism.

Not surprisingly, the past and present stars of the NBA have been the most eloquent and on-point about the situation.  Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Mayor Kevin Johnson have each gotten to the heart of the matter.
  • Magic Johnson: "In the most diverse city in the United States? How can somebody like that be running a sports team?"
  • LeBron James: "No Room For That In Our Game"
  • Chris Paul: “On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively."
  • Mayor Kevin Johnson called it a "signal moment in the history of the NBA", emphasizing that the players' voices be heard in the outcome.
Unfortunately, new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was more lawyer than leader yesterday when he weakly decried Sterling's apparent idiocy.  Sure he was correct in deferring talk of sanctions until an investigation is completed.  But he should have highlighted the harm that this flagrant foul causes not just to his league but to the country.  Let's hope he rises to the challenge once he gets a couple of days between games to sharpen his attack.

As for Sterling, there is so much wrong with this rich idiot that Blogger might run out of screen ink before it's all memorialized.  He was dating a girl young enough to be his great-granddaughter, whose ethnicity he disdained.  Then this one-time divorce lawyer put himself in a situation where his ex-wife is suing his sugar doll because he plied her with community property.  Only in L.A.

Mostly he is stunningly stupid, callous and shamefully wrong in his racial views.

Depressing though all this is, there is a bright silver lining to it.  Racism is a universally reviled social offense in America today.  Notwithstanding the many false accusations of racism that often threaten to weaken our revulsion of the real thing, the American people are overwhelmingly agreed that racism is fundamentally wrong.  It wasn't long ago that that wasn't the case.

Now let's see Adam Silver step up for his big shot in the next day or two.  As Magic Johnson might say to a player about ready to enter the game during the NBA Finals: It's winning time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In vs. Out

President Obama sees only his Sent folder, not his Inbox.  At least that's the way it seems.

He may pay attention to more than what he himself says, but does it seem that way?

Otherwise he'd change course.  Of course he can't change course.

The Unions, Wall Street and other unholy actors can't conceive of it - neither can the President.

It's wrong to assail Barack Obama for being a tool of the populist Left.  He's a tool all right, but of his own doing, his own belief, his own certitudes.  He can't change.  Can't.

Strongly inclined towards Centralized Control, he sees vouchers as poison and food stamps as a positive indicator of what government can do.  He need look no further.  cCon is his worldview.

He keeps telling us this, again and again, energetically overloading his Sent folder.

Items in his Inbox suggest that Distributed Control is the way to go.  His vision just can't see that far.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

#ObamaOverUnder

I, I, I, I, I say now... the President will refer to himself at least five times in his Syria speech on Tuesday, making the #ObamaOverUnder a lofty 5.  Why so many?  Past is prologue.
 
Barack Obama revealed a serious leadership deficiency less than year into his exalted first term.  He can't sell.  Soaring oratory aside, million dollar grin notwithstanding, he went to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago as an Olympic City and lost.  Badly.  He and the First Lady weren't even home to Washington when word came that Chicago was cut in the first round.
 
I, I, I and I were the most pronounced pronouns he used in that pitch.  The crux of his argument was him.  However, successful salesmen don't use I.  They use You.  More than a semantic subtlety, the second person personal pronoun focuses on those who need persuading.  Their needs, their wants, their issues become central to the pitch.
 
With Joe Biden constantly licking his shoes, and Valerie Jarrett apparently encouraging his retrograde impulses, President Obama still spews I's to this day, almost three quarters of the way through his Presidency.
 
The President's inability to sell overlaps with his inability to strategize in the present Syrian situation, as evidenced by the parade of strategic stink bombs he's let slip: Red Lines and Presidents Don't Bluff and Shots Across the Bow among them.
 
Let's see, what might suggest a strategy?  Hmm, don't make loose threats for starters.  Don't announce when you're going to strike, and don't downplay it as you're announcing it.  Don't surprise and undercut your staff and allies.  Oh yeah, don't try to get out of owning the ultimatum.  "The World's Red Line" says the buck stops somewhere else.  "Congress is like the dog that caught the car" is petty at best, self-defeating at worst.
 
One thing certain at this point is that 100,000 Syrians are dead, thousands of them children.  Little children are dead.  Dead little children!  Thousands of them!  Hundreds from poison gas, an especially horrible way to go.   Of course, the gas more than certainly enough was unleashed by Assad's government forces - the bastard, the unholy bastard.
 
Another thing certain at this point is that America has taken on water.  Reputations take a long time to build, are especially powerful in the early stages of conflicts, and can be squandered awfully quickly.  America's reputation as the last best hope of mankind ain't what it was pre-Syria, that's for damn sure.
 
President Obama has a 6% chance of turning this around, given the following.
  • He has to get both houses of Congress to back his play, whatever it turns out to be.
  • The Navy, Air Force and others arms of American power must execute very well, without a single casualty.
  • The course of the Syrian Civil War must turn towards the Free Syrians.
  • Finally, the Free Syrians must outmaneuver the Islamists.

Assume a 50% chance of success for each of those linked propositions.  50% x 50% x 50% x 50% = 6%.  Your estimates may vary.  

I hope he nails it.  The United States of America, the Syrian people and the entire Free World pretty much needs him to succeed.  Notwithstanding his manifold Presidential deficiencies, he's our President and we need to back him.  And then hold him accountable for the results, which ever way the ball bounces.

He can make a strong start by avoiding excessive I's on Tuesday night.  What are the odds?