A Dangerous Narrative

Published at 11:42 on 28 July 2021

Remember the videos of apparently complicit Capitol Police officers waving putschists into the Capitol building? Yes, there were also officers that bravely fought the enemy, and those should be recognized and honored. I have problems with the entire concept of police, but that doesn’t mean that everyone tied up in that institution is therefore all equally 100% absolutely evil. The latter is a childish oversimplification of a complex and nuanced world.

That said, there is evidence of a pattern of police officers being sympathetic or supportive of the cause of Trumpist fascism. In addition to apparently sympathetic Capitol Police officers, numerous off-duty officers from local police agencies were found to have been at the putsch attempt. Many spent considerable amounts of their own money traveling to DC from across the country. The concept that the police harbor a dangerous pro-fascist element has much to suggest it is valid. As such, ignoring evidence that it might extend to some Capitol Police officers is dangerous and troubling.

One reason this is being done is that many Democrats are running as fast as they can from the concept of defunding the police. As much as it inconveniences an anarchist such as Yours Truly, there is ample evidence that most Americans presently are too fond of being submissive to authority for such rhetoric to play well with them.

Part of the blame must also rest on those doing left-wing messaging constructing said messaging primarily for the purposes of acquiring status within a subculture, instead of reaching out and growing the size of our movement, but that is a subject for a different post. The point I want to make is that Democrats, particularly those on the right of their party, want to show they are pro-police. Hence the tactic of trotting out loyal Capitol Police officers who fought the insurgents bravely at risk to their lives.

Also, there is a political jujitsu moment here. The Republicans have been the ones loudly chanting “back the blue” for the last year or more. It is very difficult to resist the temptation to make them squirm. In fact, squandering such an opportunity borders on gross political malpractice, considering the general political dynamic outlined above.

But, none of this changes that there is nevertheless a risk. There is undeniably institutional corruption in policing, this corruption has its roots in the very nature of authority tending to be corrupt, and it is a very real threat to a free society. Ignore it (or simplify it out of existence) at our peril.

I’m Back; Forget the Reopening

Published at 22:48 on 27 July 2021

I’m back from a road trip. Back a few days early, in fact: wildfire smoke cut it short. Not much point camping, hiking, and surveying rare plants if the air quality level is someplace between Unhealthy and Hazardous, with minimization of time spent outdoors recommended.

Regarding the border reopening, thanks to the Delta variant, forget it. Yes, Canada announced that it would reopen on the 9th of next month. That is merely a non-binding statement of future intent. Canada can easily renege, and in all likelihood will. This is even the more likely given that the USA has announced it will not reopen so early. Really, now, why should Canada extend to Americans a privilege the USA refuses to extend to Canadians? It would amount to giving up a bargaining chip for acting in the interests of its own citizens. No competent national government would do such a thing. On top of that, a strike is brewing amongst Canadian border guards and customs agents.

Remember what I wrote in my prediction of a reopening:

This assumes no unexpected developments (such as a new, vaccine-resistant COVID variant emerging), of course. If such things happen, all bets are off and the border closure may truly become a long-haul thing [emphasis added].

Unrest in Cuba

Published at 08:40 on 12 July 2021

This is Unusual

Remember, Cuba stayed solidly Marxist-Leninist while the entire Eastern Bloc in Europe rejected “left” dictatorship over a quarter-century ago. I put “left” in quotes here because that is how such dictatorships have been categorized in the Establishment media and there really is no good alternate categorization. This is despite how the very notion of rule by force is incompatible with the fundamental notion of a politics based on egalitarianism and opposition to social hierarchy, which is the original definition of the political left.

Anyhow, to have this sort of unrest in Cuba is decidedly unusual.

How Much US Involvement?

I would be surprised if there was none whatsoever, but I would also be surprised if it is the primary driving force. The latter appears to have been how the Internet is making it easier for Cubans to organize in opposition to their government, and the USA has shown itself to not be very good at Internet warfare (we have trouble defending ourselves from attacks by Russia, and today’s Russia is but second-rate power).

It’s a dictatorship. It’s been over seventy years since Cuba had anything approaching a freely contested election. Yes, seventy. Castro did not destroy Cuban democracy; Batista did. Castro failed to restore the democracy that Batista destroyed. Follow that earlier link. (It’s an article written by a Cuban exile in Florida, by the way. Put that in your pipe and smoke it if you think that Castro was the source of all evil in Cuba.)

Anyhow, it’s a dictatorship. It is oppressive, and the island is currently beset with economic problems. It is no big surprise that people are revolting. It is not necessary to concoct a grand conspiracy involving US-led covert action (which has, prior to this point, failed to provoke widespread unrest) to explain the unrest. Many other dictatorships in similar situations have found themselves facing unrest.

Overall, a Welcome Development

After a prolonged period characterized largely by passive submission, widespread acts of revolt against a decades-old dictatorship have begun. What’s not to like? That’s fundamentally good news. Anyone who values freedom should celebrate it.

If you’re a friend of dictators who play dictator in the name of keeping “their” country safe for “socialism,” you are ultimately not my ally. I am opposed to ruling elites, no matter what principles those elites use to justify their rule by force. I am as opposed to elites that rule by force in the name of “socialism” as I am to those who do it in the name of “free enterprise.”

It May Be a Flash in the Pan

It is necessary to temper one’s excitement here. There is no guarantee that much of anything will come from the current unrest. Iran has been through many episodes of unrest, some far more significant than what has happened so far in Cuba, yet the reign of the mullahs still prevails there. Belarus is still a dictatorship despite all the unrest there in the past year. Uprisings often fail. In fact, more fail than succeed, if one defines success as unseating the government of the day.

There are Risks

Certainly there are risks. One has only to look how Western meddling derailed what glasnost and perestroika began in the ex-USSR, by pushing the Russians to create the very same strongman presidency that Putin soon used to create a new dictatorship, to see an example of what could go wrong. And it’s not just Russia; many nations in what was the Soviet bloc have proved to be disappointments when it comes to respect for basic human rights.

News flash: life itself entails risk. Progress entails taking risks. Revolution is always a risky endeavor.

It is Worth the Risk

Revolution is risky, but it is also necessary. Ultimately, it is the only thing that keeps ruling elites in check. Laws in law books might appeal to fans of the rule of law, but ruling classes have always been willing to break the very laws they wrote. The only thing that really restrains ruling elites is their own knowledge of the historical fact of many revolutions, and the fear, somewhere in the back of their heads, of what might come their own way should they push things too far.

So ¡Viva la revolución!

What about the Border?

Published at 06:10 on 10 July 2021

It will soon be a year and four months since the US/Canada border was closed. Most of us in border regions are eagerly awaiting its reopening. So, when will that be? First, let me observe two points:

  1. Canada has been reluctant to reopen the border.
  2. The pressure is increasing (on both sides of the border) to reopen.

Put those two together and it seems obvious that the most likely course of events is a gradual relaxation of border-crossing requirements. Such a relaxation is already underway, in fact. Expect the trend to continue.

Each loosening will only temporarily cause pressure to abate on the two national governments; until it is easily possible to cross the border, pressure will remain to relax the restrictions on crossing it. There are just too many people inconvenienced by the border being closed for it to be any other way. The logical result of such a process is a gradual loosening of restrictions.

By September, things may not completely be back to normal, but I expect to be allowed to once again go up to Vancouver to visit friends. I may well have to go through a little extra paperwork to be allowed into Canada, but I should be allowed to cross the border for not much more of a reason than I want to cross it.

This assumes no unexpected developments (such as a new, vaccine-resistant COVID variant emerging), of course. If such things happen, all bets are off and the border closure may truly become a long-haul thing.

Room for a Little More Optimism

Published at 10:31 on 9 July 2021

Now that the House has committed itself to forming a select committee to investigate the events of last January 6th, there is room for a little more optimism about the future.

A little more. We are still in a world where the Democrats have damned themselves via their own reluctance to form such a committee in the first place. This indicates an overall, collective lack of appreciation for the seriousness of the current situation.

Also, these are Democrats we are talking about, the party that continually squanders opportunities and has a long, sad history of losing easily winnable elections. A competent Democratic Party would leverage the work of such a select committee to help inspire voters to oppose the GOP in the coming election (the GOP sure wasn’t shy about leveraging the work of the Benghazi select committee). But that is not the sort of Democratic Party we have; instead, we have one that by and large labors under the delusion that the voting public is, in general, comprised of rational actors who are concerned about political issues and who will naturally tend to reward the Democrats when they do things that are in the interest of the vast majority.

Thankfully, the antifascist coalition consists of more than just Democrats. In particular, it consists in part of dissident conservatives who have left the Trump-era Republican Party in disgust, and some of these individuals are the very political operatives who have long helped the GOP eat the Democrats’ lunch in campaigns. Thus, we can expect the Lincoln Project (which, contrary to my expectations, seems to have weathered the storm of its earlier scandal) to not be shy about doing what is necessary to politically capitalize on the fallout from January 6th.

The question is whether or not it will be enough. The Lincoln Project is something of a political oddball, and is not well tied-in to conventional sources of funding, thus limiting its power to do the politically savvy things that its leaders know need to be done. Then again, they recently did manage to spank Toyota good and hard for bankrolling seditious politicians, so do not underestimate that organization’s ability to make up in talent for it lacks in funding.

So: a little more optimism is called for at this stage, but not any more.

How Not to Leave Afghanistan

Published at 08:31 on 8 July 2021

I wrote a few months ago how leaving Afghanistan in defeat is basically a foregone conclusion, and thanks to the malfeasance of the ruling class that ordered the invasion, has been a foregone conclusion for nearly two decades and counting.

As such, there really are only two fundamental choices: leave in defeat now, or continue squandering lives and resources and leave in defeat later.

At best, there is some sort of weak argument for leaving not quite now, so the departure can be done in a somewhat more orderly fashion, with a somewhat more hopeful future prognosis. The risk in this is that when “not quite now” comes around, there will be a strong temptation to come up with a new “not quite now,” just a little bit further in the future, and so on, until significant delay has transpired, with the associated waste in lives and resources. In fact, much of the duration of the Western presence in Afghanistan can be accurately characterized as precisely this process.

Eventually, the bitter reality of defeat must be accepted by the ruling class. Of this, there is no alternative.

All that said, however, there are still better and worse ways to leave in defeat. One huge question is the one of what happens to the Afghans who chose to throw their lot in with the Western invaders. If they are not given asylum in the West, it is crystal clear what will happen to them, and as of this stage it is unclear if they will be given asylum.

Mind you, this is a ruling class we are talking about, so such rank callousness over the lives of others just comes with the territory. It would be entirely in character for those Afghans to be abandoned. History is replete with such examples. So they may well be abandoned. That much is as clear as the inevitability of the US defeat in Afghanistan has long been.

However, it would be, in addition to inhumane, highly unstrategic. It would say to future potential allies that being an ally of the West is a stupid exercise that will likely lead to one being abandoned later. This has the obvious consequence of making it more difficult to secure allies in the future.

The question is whether the ruling class is capable of realizing this. They really do believe they are superior human beings whose lives matter more than others; one cannot easily rule over others without believing such claptrap. And, of course, the lives that matter least of all are the lives of those least like the ruling elite, those whom: do not have much money to their name, do not have white skin, do not have a Western culture and traditions, etc. The Afghan people fit these characteristics to an absolute “T.”

Nothing is inevitable, however, and it is also possible that political realities can be created which make it the path of least resistance for the ruling class to give those vulnerable Afghans asylum. However, such realities must be created, i.e. there must be organized pressure in favor of giving our Afghan allies asylum. So far, there has not been a great deal of such pressure, but it is possible to change that, and the real question is whether or not sufficient pressure can be created.

If this does not happen (and it is at this time an open question whether or not it will), then we will soon see another moral outrage added to the long list of such outrages committed by Western imperialism.

Recent COVID-19 Thoughts

Published at 09:56 on 7 July 2021

This is Not Over

Worldwide, the vast majority of individuals have yet to see so much as a single dose of vaccine, and the numbers of new cases and deaths are comparable to spring and summer of last year, when everything was shut down due to the risk. Yes, in the First World things are returning to normal, but the First World is not the entire world. Far from it, actually: the First World is a tiny sliver of wealthy nations. The vast majority of the world’s people live in poverty or near-poverty.

Not Over, Part II

Not only is the virus circulating widely, new variants are continually evolving. So far, the existing vaccines seem to do a good job of protecting against those new variants. There is, however, no guarantee that this will hold into the future. Influenza viruses continually evolve to the point where new vaccines must be continually developed to protect against them.

So long as COVID-19 continues to circulate, and particularly to circulate unimpeded in the Third World, the pandemic is not over. It will not be over until it is over for all. Seen in this light, aid to developing countries is not mere charity; it is self-interest.

Hard to Feel Sorry for Most Refuseniks

Then we get to the First World, where a not-insignificant chunk of individuals, particularly in nations like the USA that are plagued by widespread backwardness of thought, refuse to get vaccinated at all.

First of all, this is their choice: forcing people to get a medical procedure is anti-freedom and should be off the table. This has two sides, however: forcing people to associate with the irresponsible is also anti-freedom and should also be off the table. If businesses and other organizations wish to have vaccine mandates, they should be free to do so. If this causes the refuseniks difficulty in their personal lives, so be it. Choices have consequences.

Secondly, it is very hard to feel sorry for most of the refuseniks that get sick and/or die as a result of their behavior. To reiterate: choices have consequences. COVID vaccination is a rare example of something done very right in the USA. Instead of vaccine access depending on social privilege, the vaccine is available to all, free at the point of delivery. Nobody has to decide between their children having enough to eat and getting a shot. The standard point about many being victims of their unchosen circumstances does not apply this time.

Yes, there are groups that are mistrustful of the medical establishment because of past history (type “Tuskeegee experiment” into your search engine of choice for one such example). And there are people for whom it is just plain unsafe to receive a vaccine. But those cases are a minority of those refusing to get vaccines. I chose my wording carefully: it is hard to feel sorry for most refuseniks.

I Blame Trump, Too

No, he’s not president anymore, but he is still very much politically relevant. Anyone who doubts the latter statement need only consider how much the GOP is still cowering in fear of his every word, refusing to so much as entertain the idea of investigating the January 6th insurrection. Trump created and weaponized the sort of know-nothing-ism that the anti-vax crowd is part of.

There is nothing stopping Trump from agreeing to star in a public service advertisement or two targeted at his demographic, encouraging people to get vaccinated. This would almost certainly be a huge help in increasing the vaccination rate, and Trump himself is vaccinated, proving that he has no objection in principle to vaccination. Yet he insists on running a death cult and killing his followers.

Then again, those followers chose to be followers. The USA is not North Korea; Trumpism is not a mandatory state ideology. Again, it is hard to feel sorry for most of those getting sick and dying as a result of their own personal bad decisions.

Whatever Happened to Bret Weinstein?

Published at 07:41 on 2 July 2021

Remember him? He is (or rather was) the Evergreen State College professor who got his undies all in a knot the time their annual Day of Absence asked White students to consider staying off campus for a day.

The organizers of the event had asked the same of students of Color for decades, and Weinstein had never raised a peep about it. He only objected the one year when they thought to reverse it. That latter fact caused many leftists, including Yours Truly, to conclude that, despite Weinstein’s protestations to the contrary, white fragility was at the root of his objections.

At the time, I pointed out (not on this site, but in conversations), that I considered him for the most part a “nutty professor” who was himself responsible for most of the brouhaha he found himself involved in. This was not to say that I supported everything done by his opponents (which degenerated at times into threats of physical violence).

Anyhow, where is this nutty professor today?

Answer: promoting COVID vaccine denialism and quack remedies, and as such causing YouTube to exercise editorial discretion by removing many of his videos. Then, of course, playing the victim card and acting like he’s being “censored” due to YouTube’s act of free speech. And yes, part of free speech is the right to not say something, and to be free from others forcing you to say what you do not want to say.

You think I’m making this up? Go to his Twitter feed and see for yourself.

Oh, he also famously once tried to lecture the International Chess Federation about chess rules and strategy:

Looks like my earlier characterization of him as a nutty professor was spot-on.

Cliff Mass Lies Again

Published at 13:10 on 25 June 2021

In a recent post of his, he claims, regarding extreme heat waves:

There is no evidence that such a wave pattern is anything other than natural variability (I have done research on this issue and published in the peer-reviewed literature on this exact topic).

This is a recurring pattern with Mass: passing off a topic on which there is debate in the scientific community, as something that is settled, with his own personal opinion in the debate as the settled truth. Actually, there is some evidence of the sort Mass denies:

“This is a weather system that can be very persistent, it can last for many days,” said Dim Coumou, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It brings clear skies, very high temperature[s].”

While climate change has already warmed the planet about 1.2C since pre-industrial times, scientists such as Coumou believe it has also shifted atmospheric patterns.

His research shows that a gradual weakening of the jet stream during summer makes these high-pressure systems more persistent, resulting in longer heatwaves. The jet stream, a band of fast-moving wind high in the atmosphere, greatly influences weather patterns in the northern hemisphere


Edit: And his grasp of statistics is all wrong, too.

Pelosi Slowly Wakes Up

Published at 10:48 on 24 June 2021

Mind you, this is distinctly a positive development, but contrary to Pelosi’s assertion, Congress does not have “as long as it takes.” It is imperative that a substantial part of the truth be uncovered and released to the voting public in advance of the November 2022 elections. Voters must be informed as to just how institutionally complicit the GOP was in the insurrection. Failure to do so would be a gross disservice to the Republic and its Constitution that Pelosi has sworn an oath to defend.

Also, it must be understood that the goal of having the investigation be bipartisan is in tension with the one of having it be thorough. At this stage, not many House Republicans can be trusted to act in good faith. Ones who, like Peter Meijer and Adam Kinzinger, have demonstrated their faith to Constitutional norms, are acceptable. The vast majority, however, have demonstrated by their own words and actions that they are fascists loyal to to their führer Trump and nothing or nobody else. As such, it is absolutely unacceptable to place such individuals in positions of power sufficient to sabotage the necessary work of the Committee.