Ooobie on Everything

Fifty ways to smear your rival

I’ve been cowering in anxiety over these many weeks, watching the madness unfold. Even as we in the US speak of using tactical nukes when needed and train our European allies how to operate the mechanics using real nukes, we narrow inexorably our diplomatic contacts with Russia. Like, why do you need contacts when you, like, really really hate the other guy? Of all the loonies, the US and UK are the absolute worst, although they have a cause (war with Russia), while so many EU and NATO member countries merely have interests, none of which actually include war with Russia.

Let’s start with the case of the Skripals, who were living peacefully under the aegis of the UK Government, which had years ago traded some Russian spy cooling his heels in a UK prison for Father Skripal, a man who gave the UK/NATO secrets for money, but who was never a KGB/FSB agent. Just a greedy Russian, well-placed. Oddly enough, the daughter has been allowed to wander to and fro freely between Russia and the UK, never having been raped or even given a secondary examination at any Russian entry point. (A totally inadvertant pun.) I can’t vouch for the British.

Dang, every time NATO or its members need a boost for some cock-eyed idea or adventure, the Russians pony up the needed boost. Look at all those brilliantly timed cw attacks in Syria, which allowed the US to bomb some derelict Syrian aircraft and give Nikki Haley her “Die Hard” lines. From the moment this story emerged I said (I really did), “let us await the miraculous recovery of said duo.” And bingo. Yulia, daughter, told her cousin by phone (and I’ll get to that) that she and Dad were just hunky-dory and no problems. Do not worry! And yes, now the Brits tell us, both the Skripals and the inadvertent cop who ran to their assistance are all well and recovering at meteoric rates. It’s a miracle. Not to mention the miracle that this hyper-deadly substance snagged only three people! But then…

Then there is the bizarre case of the dead pets. Supposedly when the animal-loving Brits swarmed over the Skripal home, discovering the cw-smeared front door knob, they never noticed two cats and a guinea pig — no doubt in a big cage! Squealing! Now those beloved family members are dead after gruesome weeks of what? Was it cw that killed them, after untold suffering? Or was it starvation and dehydration, leaving the victims so far gone a vet had to put them down? This also raises the question of whether, in fact, the Skripal home was really “searched,” as they surely knew where the cw was — on that front door knob that nobody but the two Skripals apparently touched. But they missed the squealing guinea pig! It had better be cw or I’m writing to PETA. And SPCA. And if those animals died of cw contamination — egads. The Russians came up with a deadly agent that allows humans miraculous recovery one hundred percent of the time, but murders household pets without exception.

Do you remember the neutron bomb? People hated the very idea, because it killed people but left property values unchanged. Well, at least it left property undamaged. This is called “precision targeting.”

If the Skripals ever doubted who owned them, now they really know.

Okay, back to the phone call. How was this woman, still under intense security, and in a hospital, manage to call Moscow, a call monitored of course by the loathsome FSB? Doesn’t that ring a little odd to you? Did the Brits not know she had a mobile phone? Did she borrow a phone from another patient and call home to Moscow? And how embarrassing that Moscow immediately made it known that the two Skripals were fine, straight from the victim’s mouth.

Okay, so I don’t believe a word of what either the UK or the NATO chorus tells us is so. I am awaiting the evidence, which nobody except NATO and close friends are allowed to see. Guilty until proven innocent prevails, and those dropping bombs for democracy see no conflict.

In any case, the scientists at the UK’s Porton Down, located only a few miles from where the Skripals allegedly fell into comas on a park bench, seemingly decided to save their consciences and screw the government. They made public what they had previously leaked: there is no way to trace back the substance used to who made it. Amazingly, trace cw doesn’t usually have fingerprints or DNA. Now Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Minister, and everybody else declare they never said it came from Russia. I have to wonder, do they really think us so stupid that we can’t remember what they were screaming at us a few days ago?

So the UK has had to very slightly amend their statement that the stuff “no doubts about it, slam dunk,” came out of Russia, to “it is beyond any reasonable doubt that…”. I really appreciate that droll irony the Brits unfurl when needed, now citing due process to explain why due process was unnecessary.

As for that useless Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), it has thrown its reputation to the winds by violating its own rules and denying Russia access to any information being used as the basis for such a grave allegation.  Instead OPCW cites the need for UK “good will” in allowing the rules to be followed. Fat chance. What a bunch of weenies, and to think, our lives are in their hands.

One last word on the whole farce. Just in the past couple of days, the OPCW showed up for a surprise inspection of cw-free (as declared under international inspection) Russia. Recall that the US is still drawing out the process of destroying its own significant cw stockpiles, which probably contain Novichok-type cw. So not only is Russia unfairly charged, tried and convicted absent any pretense of due process, but now it is singled out for “special inspection” by the very organization denying Russia access to information. Stinkeroo.

Next. Syria. This is why Trump’s governance makes you dizzy. He is panting to get out of Syria, but the Generals, his besties, are not. Some generals are talking about that glorious day when Assad is deposed and democracy rules in Damascus. Hello. ISIS is a goner and if we cooperated with Assad, would be gone. Only five percent of the country is in terrorist hands and Assad has reasserted control (to great popular relief) over most of the country. But still we want to set up illegal bases and act as lightning rods for malcontents? Puh-leeze. Trump, follow your instincts. Pull our guys out and set them up on the US southern border.

And the Mexican invasion. I have to say, I was impressed at the rapidity with which Peña Nieto stopped the looming caravan of unwanted’s that threatened our border. Once Trump pulled out his wallet and saw no money for Mexico and a lot fewer jobs for all those pent-up Mexicans after a NAFTA rewrite or death, the path forward was clear. And I know how venal our friends in Latin America are from close experience. Still, overnight is impressive. I favor the use of the national guards on the border and the wall, physical and technical. Once again, I urge that a country needing lots of manual labor develop a migrant program based on existing ones, where families remain back home, and worker spends no more than half a year working and the other half back home. Then we all are satisfied except those who just want slave-wage labor.

Finally, Mueller. Does this guy know that Ukraine and Russia are no longer, after thousands of years, the same thing? The Russians sometimes get similarly confused. So far, he has zip except on financial shenanigans in Kiev (gasp) that are not supposed to be his bailiwick at all. I figure the worst crime by Manafort was representing the guy who liked Russia, rather than the guy we were about to put into power via a putsch. Rosenstein, another presumed member of the Secret Society mentioned by Romeo and Juliet, told him to go ahead. Dive in! Find out anything on anybody in the entire Cosmos as long as it isn’t Hillary Clinton!

Another hint to Trump: get a new FBI director, assistant director and top bureau officials. Start laying down the law of “Strict Neutrality” and acting against those who still want to wage political warfare using our civil service. Take another look at the Justice Department. And be prepared to go outside the system to get a house-cleaning long, long overdue.

 

 

 


Here we go, take a deep breath…

people jumpingWe are at the very precipice, the very eleventh hour before Russia invades eastern Ukraine to stop the mayhem that is now spiraling out of control. My husband and I agree that the military operation underway in eastern Ukraine by the so-called Army and Kiev’s leading fascist group is being run with the advice of NATO (US in first place) military and intelligence. The Right Sector is probably coordinating with the Army but they are doing their own vicious thing there, and it is igniting the eastern Ukrainians as never before, literally. This is the perverse effect of murdering whole groups of people you don’t like, by however brutal a means is available. Burning them to death or forcing them to jump to death to escape the fire is as good as a laser ray as far as these testosterone-laden Neanderthals of the far right are concerned.

The Russians got it right when they said that this new violence against the pro-Russians has taken things to the point of no return. Russia went to the UNSC but know as well as anybody that this is not going to do anything or go anywhere. Nevertheless the Russians have been busy checking off all the boxes, from the quick Geneva accord that obligated both sides to disarm thugs and free occupied public buildings, to the multiple appearances at the UNSC, to intervention to free from the pro-Russian forces the western military attaches to Kiev masquerading as OSCE observers. Kiev decided it could escape the need to try (fruitlessly) to disarm the Right Sector and its allied goon squads in western Ukraine by deputizing same and “allowing” them to continue “guarding” the public places. Russia in return did nothing to calm down its side, which is now busy agitating that ancient Russian instinct to rally when the village bell sounds warning. People are dying now. A 70-year old eastern Ukrainian told a reporter that the people have no choice but to take to the streets now, they are abandoned by everyone and must defend themselves however they can. This is civil war, not the earlier stalking and marking of territory by proxies of the two chief foes, Washington and Moscow. Now the population in both Russia and eastern Ukraine is engaged and angry and frightened. Every ugly thing they ever heard about NATO is very real for them now.

For those who think NATO is trying to calm things down, the comments by Alexander (Sandy) Vershbow the other day should give pause. Vershbow is very smart and somewhat scholarly, a professional US diplomat who served as US Ambassador to both Moscow and to NATO. In his retirement years, he has become a no doubt highly-paid NATO apparatchik and it was in this capacity that he was speaking. What he said was that NATO now (reluctantly) had to put Russia in the enemy category. Also as a consequence, NATO should start beefing up its eastern member states militarily and even arming the remaining buffer states (Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) with so-called defensive arms immediately.  This is a man with a deep knowledge of Russia and he’s demanding NATO rush to encircle Russia as far as it can and to do so in the spirit of enmity? I ask you: what is Russia to do? How is Russia to react?

great gameWhatever Russia may have wanted prior to the Kiev putsch, it was faced afterwards with a situation that directly affected its vital interests (the ultimate alliance of Ukraine). The EU was aggressively pushing its own interests as opposed to Russia’s and in many ways to the disadvantage of Russia, and Moscow knew that the ultimate goal was Ukraine’s membership in NATO. It was with reference to this that Putin, after he annexed Crimea, said that had Russia not acted, the historic Russian territory would be hosting a NATO naval base. It was not going to happen. Russia is world-class when it comes to Realpolitik. After Kiev it was clear where this was heading. No international organization was going to keep Ukraine out of NATO, so Russia would have to do it — through forceful diplomacy or force. Moscow has pushed negotiations aimed at creating a federal state in Ukraine that gives eastern Ukrainians equal power with Kiev and treaty-based neutrality for the nation. EU/NATO and their puppet regime in Kiev reject federalization although they have deigned to recognize the majority-language of eastern Ukraine (Russian) as a legitimate and legal language (although not through legislation). Their overt concern is that Russia will manipulate that federalism to Kiev’s disadvantage. As for neutrality, it is of no interest whatsoever to the ever-expanding western military bloc.

Now Russia will do what the US would do in an analogous situation (far more serious than that in, say, Grenada in the 1980s). It will invade and occupy and reassert order. And whether the outcome is federalism or an independent eastern Ukraine or an annexed eastern Ukraine, things are unlikely to revert to the status quo ante.

Everything beyond that certainty is open to chance. How will NATO respond? Can  Germany continue to block US ambitions to push NATO right up physically to Russia’s border? And how about our publics? In the US, a WSJ poll just found that a majority of Americans want a pull-back in America’s presence abroad and an end to wars. By a huge margin they want the US to keep out of Ukraine and let the Russians do what they will. They oppose war against Syria. They don’t think the US owes Ukraine anything, much less a defense against Russia. In Germany, there is plenty of opposition to NATO expansion and threats against Russia, and don’t even mention the possibility of going to war against Russia. This sector wants Germany to keep out of the Russia-Ukraine squabble and in many European countries there is a strong resistance to any further economic sanctions. Despite the unanimity of will NATO leaders point to, it doesn’t exist. The fractures are there and they are deep and NATO’s latest threats against Russia have inaugurated a new era in international politics.

 


Snowden: What Next?

usrussI’m back to Snowden again. This case fascinates me for two reasons: one, Snowden revealed how powerful the octopus of US intelligence has become, pulling in every scrap of information about us 24/7, and two, it involves Russia and its complex relationship with America.

It seems as if Russia is about to grant Snowden temporary asylum. A lot of hysterics in the US, in the Administration and in both parties, call this a slap in the face and harboring a criminal. Obama wants him back and nobody is cooperating. As I’ve written before, the law is clear that the nation accepting an asylee does so based on its own judgment of the merits of the asylum application. I don’t ever recall a case where spies were turned over — but then, in the old days the spies were generally absconding to the country for which they had spied. This is a horse of a different color, but it really makes the issue of asylum, from a moral perspective, easier to decide. Snowden did not violate his vow to secrecy for monetary reasons, or for fifteen minutes of fame, but out of conviction that the  US government was violating fundamental Constitutional principles in its non-stop and expansive monitoring of the nation’s personal business. He sought asylum knowing he would be imprisoned for life for what he did and suspecting that all sorts of not-quite torture awaited him. Who wouldn’t seek asylum? Just because you reveal the evils of an entity doesn’t mean you’d like to be punished for it. People who claim he’s a coward for running don’t get it. He wants to tell his story. He can’t do that from a prison.

I read someone or other recently who was bitterly asserting that Snowden’s character was evident in his choice of countries as possible asylum. Huh? Isn’t it quite clear that his choice of countries was not a choice? He had a handful of nations that were gutsy enough to challenge the US on this one, and not one more. He was roundly rejected by all the NATO countries to which he applied and China, that bastion of enlightened self-interest, shoveled him straight onto a conveyer belt into Russia, where a surprised Putin was pretty annoyed at the stunt. Putin, however, doesn’t have a personal problem dealing with the US. He considers Russia an equal in many respects to America — particularly today’s teetering America. And as a tough guy, he doesn’t react well to threats, veiled or otherwise, which is I’m sure what Obama offered during the famous meeting in which fisticuffs appeared under consideration or in Obama’s case, pouting.

When Snowden came to Moscow, Russia became the obvious asylum granter. After all, everybody makes it clear they couldn’t possibly grant asylum unless Snowden were in their country, and he can’t get to another country because the USG has indicated it will force down any flight suspected of carrying him — even if it is also carrying the president of another country. I wonder how Americans would react if Obama’s plane were forced down by Russians to take someone off it by force. Not well, I’d guess. The US is setting some really bad international precedents.

Of course the Chinese and Russia now know what Snowden knows. There’s nothing to be done about it. Such a hush-hush organization ought to have better security. But Putin’s hands are tied as far as Snowden’s status. He has said and his chief alter-egos have said that Snowden was never a spy for Russia and is not a criminal from their perspective. He will not be turned over. I know the US has people over there squeezing, threatening and pleading, but I think they ought to let this subside into oblivion. It isn’t doing much for the US image to be seen as begging at Russia’s door, and in vain.

european hypocrisyA couple of things occur to me. First, I’ve learned from the denial of Snowden’s asylum request that the Europeans’ claim to moral superiority (over America, certainly) is totally bogus. Their judgment that crimes of conscience are identical to crimes of venality makes it plain that they are quite amenable to abandoning any principles they might actually hold dear when it comes to stark self-interest. They didn’t want problems with the US, and they sure didn’t want all the details of their own felonious snooping on their citizens coming out in the open. They as much as put their imprimatur on US spying at home and abroad.

russian girlSecond, Snowden will be okay in Russia. He might even find a Russian girl to marry. It isn’t the US, or London or Paris, but it is Moscow, which is a very interesting place. It’s absolutely true, as former UK spy Matthew Dunn writes on the Fox News website, that the Russian government will always be watching him and he will never be trusted by the people who give him asylum. But aside from that, he will find a huge and fascinating country with people who generally  think what he did is heroic. What they really are reacting to in Snowden is probably their own secret wish for someone like Snowden who would blow the lid off the Russian State’s domestic espionage.


Tactical Allies on the Left

signThe news is that James Earl Carter has finally turned his eagle eye for abusiveness to the USG and finds it guilty. For the first time ever, I find that I agree with most of what Carter had to say. This is a scary moment for me. If there is a president I despise approximately as much as I do Obama, it’s Carter. Carter managed in four years at the helm to trash his country and those of other one-time allies like the Shah of Iran and Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, helping into power anti-American regimes in both places. In retirement, he has been an attention-grabbing gadfly with a huge sense of righteousness. How nice that he is now willing to step forward in defense of Americans’ basic rights instead of blathering about Myanmar or some other country we really don’t give a flip about.

The subject Carter was speaking about in some touchy-feely Atlanta conclave was the invasive nature of today’s American government and its violation of fundamental principles of liberty, to wit, NSA and other espionage systems. He said that there is no longer a functioning democracy in the United States. He said it about a Democrat president. A Democrat president who finally relieved Carter of the title for worst president ever. Hallelujah and saints be praised!

And I wonder: what has changed here? How is it that many on the left and many on the right who agree on nothing else agree that there is no functioning democracy in America? Have the scales fallen from their eyes? Does this new willingness to speak out against Obama give hope that we can forge alliances never conceived of to defeat the neo-totalitarians? Maybe Carter will take up the case of Edward Snowden and press for safe-passage documents to see him to his chosen place of asylum. Wouldn’t that be a kicker, a real Nobel Prize moment.

flowersIt always happens in left-wing revolutions that people who were most guilty of promoting everything that evolved into tyranny are among the first to be eliminated by the new regimes. Erstwhile allies become enemies of the State because the State knows better than anyone how  much damage the erstwhile ally can do to the Establishment. It’s like Mao’s encouragement to China’s people to “let a hundred flowers bloom.” In that enigmatic oriental way of his, this meant “go ahead, you intellectuals, disagree with me, tell me the error of my ways, write plays and poetry and paint pictures and fully express yourself.” When the flowers were in bloom, he was able clearly to see his enemies, sticking out above all the others, and he snipped off their heads. Just think of all those left-wing intellectuals dead or might as well be dead in places like Russia, China, Cuba and North Korea. In Russia, the famous writer and playwright Vladimir Mayakovsky — a leading intellectual light among the communists — shot himself less than a decade after the Bolsheviks took power. He was terribly depressed to find that the people who were going to make Russians free were actually worse than the Tsar.

So it’s nice to see that some of the lefties — by no means all of them — are recognizing at last how we have changed from a free-thinking and free-living nation into a nation where half are in thrall to their government and half want to bring it down and everybody is owned by the State. Rights are becoming an arcane concept, unless you’re talking about the sham rights the UN and the left are pushing: the right to a job, the right to a house, the right to a university education, the right to free health care, and so on. (In reality this means the right to any job the State offers you, two rooms and a toilet for your house,  and the right to higher education only for the brightest or the connected — the rest will be shuffled off to technical schools to serve the needs of the State. It means the right to a poor and much-reduced level of health care that will succeed in jacking up the death rates and thereby thin out the ranks of the old and useless.)

Even the shabby quality of the things the State claims it can provide forever for free cannot in fact be guaranteed. The only rights we can guarantee are those in our founding documents, like the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The rest are nothing but cheap promises.

schismWhen elements of the two extremes of American politics can come together on the threat to freedom — or more accurately, when the left can see, too, that freedom is under assault — it means we have gone far down the road to tyranny. House hearings have revealed only the tip of the iceberg of corruption and politicization of our federal bureaucracy. The neo-totalitarians are sprinkled throughout the system, quietly churning out regulations to bind us and coerce us down the paths they have chosen. But there are tremors beneath our feet portending big changes in America. Things are coming to a tipping point, or maybe a parting of the ways. Our government wants to control us like bytes and bits of a computer and this nation within a nation, the conservative nation, isn’t going quietly.

 


The Changing World Order

usreducedThe Wall Street Journal reports that Obama might not make a long-planned trip to Russia for a chit-chat with Vladimir Putin due to a list of bilateral spats that starts with Edward Snowden. According to the article, Sen. Lindsey Graham told an interviewer that he would fiercely consider not going, because everything Russia is doing at the moment is making the world a much more dangerous place.”

Fiercely is not a word I normally would associate with Lindsay Graham. Wimpy, yes. Collaborative, yes. Self-important, check. He and John McCain, the Senate bookends, are doing their best to get the US acting as judge, jury and executioner in every spat any two foreigners get into, and now both are ready to pick a fight with Russia over Snowden. Both men know full well that Russia didn’t run Snowden as an agent, he was dumped in their lap by China after Chinese intelligence had all it needed from the American. Of course they’re angry with China too. They ought to spend less time berating other countries for taking advantage of our official stupidity and more time trying to find out why there is so much official stupidity. A contractor of callow age walked off with such vital information that it might sink us (not). Who should be beaten about the head and ears for that offense?

And now on to substance. I can certainly understand why Obama wants to avoid a high-profile visit to the home of his former BFF, especially when Putin isn’t likely to yield on any of the outstanding issues. Mind you, all of the issues are impasses, it isn’t a matter of concessions on both sides. The US wants Edward Snowden, Russia won’t hand him over. The US wants an end to Russia’s nuclear cooperation with Iran, Putin is firmly against. The US wants Russia to abandon its old ally Syria and line up behind the US, and Putin would rather die. Only on Snowden is there still a possibility to put this behind us: Putin might agree to arrange a fatal accident for the whistle-blower now that Russian intelligence have all the goodies Snowden brought — but only if Barack Hussein asks nicely. What are the chances of that?

bad russiaThen there is the charge so eloquently leveled by Mr. Graham that everything Russia is doing makes the world a more dangerous place. What he means is, Russia won’t step aside and let the US have its way on every international issue, especially those dealing with the use of force. He doesn’t seem to think Russian actions might be based on Russian national interests, but instead sees it as Russia being stupidly obstructionist. It annoys him no end that Russia is supporting a secular government and long-time ally in Syria against opponents heavily represented by radical Islamist groups. Graham is one of the cheerleaders for giving arms and military training to that very same rabble, although he insists we’re only helping the good guys. As if the good guys all alone can overthrow Assad and as if he or any of us know who the good guys really are. In any case, the record so far of similar US meddling is not exactly a recommendation for such projects. Egypt is a good example of how things go wrong when political change is too rapid. That whole Middle East-North Africa region is an example of this.

Graham was no doubt also exercised when Russia opposed the partition of largely Orthodox Serbia by NATO. The US first secretly armed and trained the Moslem rebels in Kosovo and then bombed Serbia to end the fighting. Afterwards the US and the EU handed the Kosovar Albanians a big chunk of Serbian territory. Who benefitted from the weakening of a Christian state and creation of a new Moslem state? Was it really the US?

To sum it all up, who has racked up an impressive record of overthrowing governments by force since the end of the Cold War? Who has launched its bombers with relative frequency over the past twenty years? Who is really making the world a more dangerous place? I think you’ll find that Russia hasn’t had a single war outside its own borders since Afghanistan, and they learned their lesson. We haven’t.

globaldynamicsThe impulse behind these confrontations of will is the inevitable movement of global political dynamics. It was once and briefly a bipolar world, which was such a clear-cut game that it was easy to play and this made for a high level of actual global security. Then, even more briefly, we were a unipolar world, with the US calling virtually all the shots and throwing its military weight around in a way that was no doubt also inevitable — power does go to the head — and that led to the rise of coordinated opposition from other existing or emerging powers. With China beginning to exercise its own growing military might and Russia recovering from its long disarray, the US must once more contend with interest group politics on a world-wide scale. The new dynamic will require our government to move away from the profligate misuse of our military forces to change other countries’ leaders toward a more collegial form of interaction. That doesn’t mean our own vital national security interests should ever be subject to any other country’s veto; we don’t haggle over bottom-line interests. But it does mean we have to make sure we assert only truly vital national interests, rather than investing every two-bit domestic crisis around the world into another urgent need for intervention. Holding our punches has become a lost art.

Frankly, I think the emergence of blocs capable of checking the US on use-of-force matters is a healthy development. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, I think we have been in a very dangerous place. The more we have to ration our power to conserve it for the great battles that may be coming, the less likely we are to continue wasting it.

 

 


The Whistleblower and the Emperor

I am fascinated by the disastrous turn of affairs around the world and the disturbing face of One World Government that we are beginning to see take shape. The immediate cause of my consternation is the matter of Edward Snowden, whom I will forever think of as The Whistleblower because that is who and what he is. He blew the whistle on a scary, massive intelligence collection operation that had global reach and did reach as deep as possible into the lives of all of us world citizens. I don’t even care what the end was for the those carrying out the espionage, all I care is that it is a huge open invitation to grave abuses of everybody’s fundamental rights. I assume it is or will be used in bad ways. Snowden let us in on the big secret: you have no privacy rights, period. And the apologists can claim that our Congress, inept and ineffective, knew about the program, but that doesn’t mean any of the rest of us knew what was going on. In a country whose youths don’t even know who the Vice President is, the realities of an omniscient power-sucking monstrosity of espionage could hardly be expected to register at all. It took an Edward Snowden to rip the cover off the totalitarian machine growing within our country and that makes him a whistleblower and a hero.

In the real world, whistleblowers are allegedly a protected category of people whose revelation of crimes outweighs any malfeasance involved in acquiring and revealing such information. We all know that in fact whistleblowers, some of them, are destroyed by those whose crimes they expose. Not everybody is Karen Silkwood. But there is a widely held view that the person who risks everything to reveal what is or should be a criminal enterprise deserves protection from retaliation. Not surprisingly, Obama’s coterie of thugs has been relentless in chasing down whistleblowers and leakers and even boast of it. They only liked whistleblowers when they weren’t in power. Nowadays nobody can expose highly secret information, whether about legal or quasi-legal or flat out criminal activity, and get away with it.

Edward Snowden is Karen Silkwood on a global scale. He didn’t just alert Americans to their government’s pervasive espionage, he alerted people all around the world. Now Snowden is on the run and most governments are dusting off their American lackey caps. The bottom line is that these usually-pontificating nations, the kind who give peace prizes to men for literally no reason at all, are turning their backs on their humanitarian mantra and a legitimate asylum seeker because he would be inconvenient politically. Snowden remains imprisoned at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, a victim of a world governed by the mediocre and the blind. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it: there are no more heroes. There are only shabby bureaucrats doing their duty.

What is most worrisome is this slithery silent falling into place of the world’s governments behind the will of the American Emperor. I see one man, trapped, as the US builds a prison around him country by country. I suppose I should be impressed by the power of threats and demands, but instead I am repelled. This is what the One World Government looks like. There is no escape; there is no haven. There is always one real ruler, like Germany in the EU, and that country calls the shots. For the moment it is the US on top. Who knows who will be calling the shots tomorrow?

global espionageI’m sure the European governments are as afraid of Snowden’s disclosures as our own is. Their goal is to get their hands on him and shut him up. I can only assume that this because they, too, are guilty of massive invasion of privacy and disclosure of their violations would create a political firestorm. If governments’ responses to a plea for asylum are predictably limp and without principle, that is not the case with the astounding and profound silence from the usual chorus of harpies and NGOS who decry every violation of every right, real or imagined. Where is their voice of protest, the demonstrations? Snowden is a case made in heaven for rallying the self-righteous and yet they hang back. It’s in a critical situation like this that we see the end result of allowing governments to provide major and in some cases all funding to NGOs, as is the case in Europe and Canada. The reliance on government converts them from fictional independent organizations into functional Government Organizations. Their silence about Snowden is complicity.

NATO sells itself as the guarantor of freedom, but the latest development in the Snowden case, the forced landing of the Bolivian president’s aircraft for a search for Snowden, should serve as a lesson to us all in the evils of massed power and authority. Air closures are a major weapon against dissenters to the common trans-atlantic interest as seen from a handful of world capitals. We saw the tactic during the war against Serbia in 1999 when Russia was barred from over-flight of aspiring NATO countries in Eastern Europe, thus preventing Russia from aiding Serbia while NATO bombed.

By the way and for what it’s worth, I think that a rumor was deliberately spread by Moscow that Snowden was going home with Bolivian President Evo Morales in order to create an international stink when the countries collaborating with the US did something to impede the flight. The uproar will complicate a subsequent effort or efforts to bring down planes suspected of carrying The Whistleblower, especially with another Latin American leftwing president on board. It would increase the odds that Snowden reaches an asylum country.

moralesI can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the pilot had ignored the edicts closing the airspace over France and Portugal– would the jets have been scrambled to bring the plane down? Would somebody have fired a missile the way the Russians did to Korean Airlines passenger flight 007 that refused to leave Russian airspace back in 1978? I guess Morales didn’t want to take a chance. But the Bolivian is furious at the indignity of being chased down like a common criminal. This will play well for a long time in Bolivia and elsewhere in Latin America. Another foreign policy coup for the American Emperor.


Putin Punts

putinsnowdenThings are beginning to shake out here, but I couldn’t even guess how it all ends. Putin has rather clumsily gotten Edward Snowden off his hands by first offering him asylum and then stating a condition that he knew would be utterly unacceptable to Snowden. If Snowden were to agree never to say another word about what got him where he is, he would immediately lose all his growing icon status. He would be saying, “I’m sorry I revealed the global tentacles of US espionage strangling the rights of ordinary people.” He would be saying “I am a criminal.” He would never do it.

computer snoops 1Now you get some flavor of how the KGB worked. They could be brutal, but they were never stupid. On the other hand, I don’t think Putin earned any glory at home with this ploy. First off, his comments made it seem as if he was protecting American secrets and possibly crimes, something not calculated to go over big with a Russian audience. For Putin, it was a particularly weasly statement reeking of insincerity. Even more important, people suspect the real reason he doesn’t want Snowden in Russia isn’t so much out of fear of US reaction. It’s because he doesn’t want to have a super-snoop pounding away on a computer somewhere in his domain. Russian human rights advocates have been urging Putin to grant asylum and I would guess it was for the same reason that Putin doesn’t want to do it.

Now Snowden has predictably “withdrawn” his asylum request with Russia and is apparently throwing out a lifeline to all our heroic Socialist states, the ones run by the lunatic fringe (Venezuela) and those smug with their own self-satisfaction —  and that means you Norway, and you Sweden, and you Denmark. So far, no request to North Korea.

At this point, I’m waiting to see if even one of the NATO countries has the guts to defy the US and say, come to us. All of them have embassies in Moscow and it is not a problem for the Russian government to transfer him to any point within Russian territory and from there to another country. These NATO governments have no apparent problem signing on for bombing campaigns against people for highly dubious “humanitarian” causes, so I wonder if even one of them will abide by its obligations as an asylum-granting country and open its doors to a someone who can easily be described as a political dissident. So far a number of countries, including Switzerland with its humanitarian cachet, have said he has to get to their actual soil before asking for asylum. I’m sure the fact that he has no valid passport is also a technical problem if they want it to be. My point is that asylum can be extended without reference to what kind of travel document the applicant carries and regardless of all other technicalities. That these so-called problems are being discussed is an indication that the governments in question deem this to be a case where a nation’s human rights obligations can be ignored in pursuit of self-interest. Self-interest in this case amounts to the same things Putin was concerned about: not getting the US permanently out of joint and not having a snoop on their hands.

computer crimesI hope one of the European countries does step forward to take in Snowden because I’m getting this creepy idea that all these world socialist governments are closing ranks behind Big Brother to silence him. Maybe all of these governments are also poking into the private lives of individuals both at home and abroad, and maybe they care a lot less about their citizens’ fundamental rights than they do about sending a warning that nobody can reveal official crimes and get away with it. How scary is that? The implications are profound. Once upon a time what you did, the alleged crime, was weighed against your reasons for acting and the public benefit from what you revealed. Now it doesn’t seem to matter what crimes you reveal or what your motives were. Your crime of speaking out is far greater than any crime the State commits. Political crimes have been added to common crimes as the basis for denial of asylum. So tell me, oh great humanitarians: what the hell can you get amnesty for? I’ll give you one guess: running away from a right-wing government, of which there are fewer and fewer, or maybe fleeing a NATO bombing campaign.

maduroThere is one very obvious possibility for Putin to put an end to the Snowden Affair without losing too much more face. He can give him as a gift to the soon-to-arrive Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro. Since Maduro is coming in at Sheremetyevo, it would be a convenient moment to smuggle Snowden onto the presidential flight for the return trip to Caracas. I think it would be a sure bet the US wouldn’t scramble the jets for the 29-year old hacker when he is enjoying the company of a Latin American president. Maduro has yet to catch fire with the poor and the ignorant who voted him into office despite his catchy campaign slogan, “I am Chavez.”  He would get a little boost from shafting the US so publicly, especially after Rafael Correa of Ecuador — his competitor for Dictator of the Year in Latin America — lost his nerve. On the other hand, it is rumored that the Venezuelan has been mulling over a sort of rapprochement with the USG, for what reasons we do not know. Probably because he hasn’t caught fire with his voting base.

One thing is for sure, the longer this situation drags on the worse it looks for both Snowden and for the high repute of the world’s leading nations. I’m waiting for all those thousands of State-funded NGOs around the world to join their voices to the call to grant Snowden asylum. It’s a moment like this when you can really judge the conviction behind stated beliefs — or not.

 


No Heroes Anywhere

assangeWell, well, life is full of surprises. The fire-breathing anti-capitalist populist demagogue Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who doesn’t take orders from the US, seems to have lost his cojones. If I am not mistaken, he has reconsidered giving asylum to Snowden. You know the jig is up when they start citing technicalities, like “he isn’t in our country so he can’t ask for asylum.” I seem to recall countless cases of people walking into US embassies and demanding asylum, and some of them got it. All Moscow would have to do is get Snowden to the Ecuadorian Embassy, which is legally Ecuadorian territory. He asks for asylum and voilà, he’s an asylee. He could leave on any flight to Quito and there is only a middling chance that Obama would scramble the jets once they get on our side of the world.

assange2Apparently everybody is having some indigestion flowing from their take-that decisions. For Correa, granting Julian Assange asylum in his country’s Embassy in London has turned into a headache or perhaps even an ulcer. Ecuador can’t smuggle Assange out of London, the Brits would stop it. So our Wikileaks hero or villain is stuck there in some stuffy building for all eternity, highly limited in the mischief he can get up to and no doubt bored out of his mind. Sounds like my version of hell for both the asylee and the diplomats. (The US had a similar case in Moscow in the 80s when a large family of Pentecostals took refuge at the Embassy. They were there for years.) The Ecuadorian Embassy’s confidential communications have been leaking like water through a sieve and they suggest growing tensions with the Embassy’s tenant. Assange claims it’s an official disinformation campaign and the Ecuardorian diplomats privately accuse Assange of being the leak, which bit of information comes from leaked communications. (Oh, yes, there is that aspect of making spies welcome; you can never trust them.)

In Moscow, they have a different knotty issue. Having happily allowed Snowden to enjoy the benefits of the Sheremyetevo transit lounge while sharing his information with them, they would now like him to go. Anywhere. I bet the Russians have conveyed that unambiguously to Edward Snowden. But now it looks like a game of musical chairs and Putin is the last man standing. And if Correa can afford to turn tail at US threats, Putin cannot. The Russian public likes Edward Snowden, they look on him as a heroic young figure who risked everything to warn the world of US treachery. (I’d bet that is an image also widely shared among European youth.) Putin has swaggered and figuratively boxed our president’s ears. If nobody will take Snowden off his hands (and I wonder if China sent Snowden to Russia without asking Moscow?), then Russia must consider his asylum request, if made. That’s a big if. It sounds as though Snowden is weighing the benefits of allowing the dictatorial USG to handcuff him and try him for treason, thereby making him a global icon and ensuring the issue of US spying never goes to bed. If he decides against that route, he will probably be able to stay where he is, only as an official asylee. The WSJ reports that a number of Russian media and political types are now speaking out in favor of asylum for Snowden and this is seen as a way for the Kremlin to judge reactions. I might be proven wrong yet again, but I can’t see Moscow turning Snowden over to the US if they can’t offload him.

pigletPutin joked that the entire affair was like shearing a piglet: too much squeal, too little wool. As a former KGB agent, he might have been expressing his view of the new intelligence Snowden brought with him — not much they didn’t already know. Or he might have been trying to console the USG that it’s not such a big deal after all, when in fact it is a big deal. We will only know if Snowden comes home or our techno-geeks manage to trace his footsteps through the cyber-world.

But it doesn’t really matter anymore. Snowden was the agent, but it was what he revealed that must concern us. The pervasive electronic invasion of our lives is not okay, and if the system is good in the hands of good men, it can be evil in the hands of the wicked. I don’t have a lot of faith left in our government’s good will. And as far as I can see, there aren’t any heroes anymore.


Bits and Pieces

ICE

ICE employees responsible for our alleged border are not happy with the immigration legislation that has snaked its way out of the Senate and is now slithering toward the House. They say the proposed law will make their jobs impossible and who would know better than they? I tend to think, like Rand Paul, that the legislation is DOA when it hits Boehner’s desk. On the other hand, there’s no telling these days. Everybody seems to be shaking in their boots at the thought of crossing a bunch of illiterate illegals. The 10-foot tall Hispanic is reminiscent of the giant they had in the USSR military, or so we thought. In reality, the latest bunch of South Americans is smaller than ever and not the frightening thing the GOP has imagined. What we have to start doing is actually competing for Latino votes, with ideas packaged in fun, the way the Dems do it. Sending out kids who look like they’re recruiting for the Mormon Church isn’t going to do the job. There must be plenty of Latinos, young and ambitious, who would be interested in running for a local office and know what will attract youth. What’s the problem? We don’t have to give away our country to keep our country from becoming a one-party state. We just have to act like a two-party state or we’re going to end up a three-party state. At least. Welcome to political chaos brought to you via democracy.

Another subject: Trayvon Martin. The 6-foot plus “little boy” or “Obama’s kid” that the press wanted to portray sounds like a trashy-mouthed lout, not to mention a racial profiler. Maybe if he hadn’t had that ugly toad on the other end of the phone he wouldn’t have decided to show off by accosting the overweight and edgy Mr. Zimmerman. But when I heard the girl say that she and Trayvon had been on the phone all morning, the thought floated across my mind, “what did these two talk about for several hours running?”  I don’t know about Trayvon’s mental acuity beyond the fact that he wasn’t Rhodes Scholar material, but his friend seems to be borderline retarded. Ms. Gen-teel perhaps is of Haitian origin, just judging by last name and poor grip on English. She was barely intelligible throughout her testimony except when she was sassing the DA.

And as for the DA — grounds for mistrial, right there. I found my toes curling in embarrassment when he was meandering his way, often unsuccessfully, through the intricacies of the case. I knew he couldn’t be a top-flight lawyer when he failed to recast Zimmerman as a Latino, not some German that he doesn’t even look like. Fat is okay, a little longer hair, maybe he could use a Spanish word or two and say things like pendejo or madre mia. The defense could raise how little Jorge used to want so much to be an American and so on. If race is going to be a major issue, let’s make it a bi-racial issue and make it harder for our political foes to score points. And back to Ms. Gen-teel. I was wincing at the young woman’s efforts to think. She probably was high as a kite on something, but mostly I think she was just utterly stupid and ignorant. Too stupid even to lie convincingly. If I were Jorge, I’d already be working on a mistrial. I think a real lawyer might have been able to do something coherent with the characters in this play. How painful to watch!

putoEdward Snowden continues his new life of misery on the run from justice, washing up in one of Moscow’s airports, probably Sheremetevo, the international hub. The US has dropped the ugly American tone and has fallen back on cold wounded dignity as a theme. But the whole affair at least gave Obama the chance to sum up all his smallness of mind and spirit when he was asked if he had, by any chance, picked up the phone to call dear pal Vlad and ask for a helping hand. Obama visibly bristled, as only he does with such style, and replied that no, he did not, and he did not because why should he have to?

Such tact, such statesmanship, such logic. He presented himself as an angry kid whose only response to his mother’s nagging is “I shouldn’t have to!” That’s a really stupid thing to say, because maybe, if he actually wants Snowden back, a phone call would be all the healing balm needed. Nah. I think it has gone beyond mere miffiness between the two men, something was said by Obama to Putin to put Putin’s nose out of joint but good. That was evident after their private talk. Maybe Mr. P, whose own Czar-like stature should appeal to The Prez, got a hefty dose of Obama’s arrogance? Then, like manna from heaven, Snowden showed up in Moscow. Who could resist, in all honesty, the chance to stick it to Barack Obama? In response to Russia’s refusal to play ball, or, as some might see it, kowtow to Washington’s orders, the USG is taking its usual limp-wrist actions, winding up the litany of Russian human rights abuses to beleaguer Putin with. The gloves are off. There is nothing that makes Obama angrier than somebody not taking him seriously or giving him sufficient adulation. It’s pretty much the same with Putin.

The other worrisome comment Obama made was his declaration that he wasn’t going to “scramble the jets for a 29-year old hacker.”  This raises the alarming suspicion that somebody, probably the increasingly senseless John McCain, actually proposed scrambling the jets or some such other hare-brained scheme. I have heard a few lunatics proposing to re-launch the Cold War. I swear, the US is really acting very unprettily these days. Given what the USG was up to, I’d keep a lower profile on the effort to get Snowden back. In fact if they had acted diplomatically instead of making a big show out of it all, perhaps Snowden would not have become an issue at all.

As for Snowden, he’ll probably end up in Ecuador. Latin America is no shirk when it comes to giving the US the finger, most countries there having done so at one time or another, and Ecuador’s president is going for the Most Revolutionary pageant this year. If the gringos want to pull a stunt to kidnap him, which they have the capacity to do in South America, it will give Correa fuel to keep the nationalist fires going for years.

sodomFinally on the Supreme Court rulings. Who cares what happens in California? It’s already a one-party state mired in corruption of every kind. The fight is on for real in the individual states where the issue is undecided, and I’m satisfied that the Court affirmed this as an area where the states rule. If they can stand by that position in future challenges, then we’ll be as good as we can get until we have our own country.

 

 


Reduced to a Snarling Kind of Plea

russia usI’m hearing a lot of commentators from both sides of America who are very angry that China and Russia are thumbing their noses at us over Edward Snowden. Leaving aside for the moment all the sneering invective from the Obama regime about the anti-democratic regimes in those countries, the bottom line seems to be that somehow the US has been so good to both of them for, like, forever and now they owe us. John Kerry and Jay Carney want us to recall in particular that the US has bent over backwards to extradite people back to Russia. Over and over.

Okay, so tell me this: did the US actually have some interest in spending millions of dollars fighting the extradition of what were, frankly, common criminals and swindlers? Did we want these felons in the US forever? I think we will all agree that the answer is no and no. That suggests, then, that the US was pursuing simple self-interest in cooperating with Russia on extradition, which we quite naturally portray as beneficence. Everybody does.

solzIf you’re still doubtful, consider this: if the person the Russians had been trying to extradite from America had been someone we considered a political dissident in danger from his government, someone like the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, we would have refused the Russian request. Extradition does not apply to asylees. Nothing would make us budge.

Of course, the USG doesn’t consider Edward Snowden to be an errant philosopher, but a vile back-stabber and heinous criminal. But in this case what the US thinks of him is irrelevant. The host country, currently Russia, once China, later, who knows, North Korea? determines what he is. If they see him as having exposed massive global spying by the USG, deem such activity to be in violation of internationally accepted principles or law, and feel Snowden could not receive a fair trial in the US, they will endorse his action with asylee status. That’s the whole story.

Then there’s the back story. You and I know perfectly well that Russia and China both aspire to the same pervasive level of global spying that the US has attained, but their sins are hidden from view, potential whistle-blowers no doubt having been run down in the street or just disappeared. This gives them the theoretical high ground and they are milking it for all its worth. The world is finally getting their own back against us, and there is little to do except take it as long as this clique of morons in Washington is in power.

Is it because we know our prez is a blowhard that he is lately so unconvincing? Didn’t you cringe just a tiny bit when you heard our officials trying to give orders to other countries? Didn’t you find yourself adding after one of these vague threats of retaliation, “And what are you going to do about it?” In diplomacy we learn that you can say some pretty stiff things without resorting to open bullying. The White House and the Congress, not to mention the NSA, apparently missed that lesson. They didn’t use any finesse or tact, which is the norm when you want what in essence amounts to a favor, but they are still just huffing and puffing. Unfortunately for Obama he can’t use a drone in either of the two offending states, and thus our nations are at loggerheads. Diplomacy, it seems, is dead in Washington.

us in laAnd another thing: ultimatums aside, have you noticed how we talk to other countries as if they’re vassals? This is the way “gringo” diplomats have historically talked to Latin Americans, who are a chatty, friendly bunch under normal circumstances but bristle when dictated to and then get even in sly and sullen ways. US diplomatic snottiness is responsible for fully half of our problems there and the way we’re verbally shoving Russia and China isn’t doing much good, either. Did anybody really think that snarling at Vladimir Putin would frighten him into compliance? He’s belligerent by nature and nothing gets him going more than a weak opponent. In fact, it’s not just Putin, it’s pretty much all Russians. They hate a sniveler. Give them a smart, ruthless, self-interested and relentless opponent any day, but don’t offend them by sending out your B or even C team. Kiss of death. Now Putin is strutting for his Russian audience and they are enjoying the show.

lemonadeThere is a lot of speculation that China and/or Russia were in from the beginning and coordinated this very public humiliation. You don’t need to look for a conspiracy in any of this. Sometimes life gives you lemons (and who knows that better than the Russians and the Chinese?) and sometimes life gives you lemonade. Edward Snowden fell into the hands of our rivals and he brought with him invaluable information. They’re not letting him go until they have gotten every bit of useful intelligence out of him, and I would be willing to bet today that whoever ends up with him will never extradite him to the US.

In the meantime, we watch this unfolding sitcom with a mixture of “you deserve” it for our government and a deep concern for our country. We have been slapped down by people we have considered our inferiors and it stings. Now we are reduced to that snarling whimper we sometimes hear from cornered dogs.