Edge of Chaos is a political podcast starring Joe Ryan and Neurotoxin. Its aim is to have a free-flowing discussion of news and current events that also examines the empirical outcomes of public policy, avoiding biases based on ideology and policy intentions. Listener discretion is both advised and encouraged.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nullification Rising? The Significance Of the Bundy Ranch

Let's look at this somewhat sensationalized but colossally misunderstood event from an objective, neutral perspective and determine what it really means for the future of this country.

First, Stop Making Fun Of Tortoise Protection

I know I will get lots of conservative hate mail for this paragraph, but I'm no more afraid of their ideological hogwash than of the liberals'. The ranch is a large private business whose objective is to profit from its grazing animals, and it is unreasonable to expect them to voluntarily neglect or temper their own self-interest for the sake of the public good; such as restricting grazing at a loss to themselves to preserve the ecosystem. I'm not agreeing with the Greenpeace characterization of large business owners as Captain Planet villains with bizarre fetishes for pollution and habitat destruction. But like most people, they will choose their own interests over those of the community under pressure. Because the ecosystem is a community resource for a variety of other interests, there is hence a need for institutions through which other actors can preserve it. I don't know enough about the ecosystem of rural Nevada to have an opinion specifically on the tortoises; but suffice it to say that insisting communal environmental protections of some sort are unnecessary is childish at best.

OK, NOW We Can Bash the BLM

The question becomes what constitutes an adequate institution for preserving common goods that aren't easily divisible and still respecting the rights and interests of private businesses. For the purposes of this post, the answer is "not the Federal government".

For starters, the original order for the Bundy Ranch to change its business operations to protect the tortoises was in 1993. That's over 20 years of paper-pushing before they got to the point where they can enforce the order, and I don't even want to THINK about what this cost taxpayers. In other words, the BLM's mission of protecting a communal resource is a noble one. But it is failing miserably at its job by taking over 2 decades to do it and likely investing far more communal resources in the form of taxpayer money than it hopes to protect. In any remotely accountable organization, this kind of cost/benefit ratio and urgency result in the firing of the entire board of directors.

Secondly, there are its methods. Businesses, just like individuals, have limited resources and have to plan their allocation; and government agencies - particularly Federal - don't exactly have a stellar track record of being considerate of these in "serving the public interest". Eminent domain abuse, for example, is one of the most devastating government excesses of our time, by which 1000s of citizens are forced off their land by government agencies usually on behalf of large corporate interests. On paper, the government is supposed to compensate these citizens for the impounded property, but bureaucratic value calculation is so detached from reality that it mostly destroys their livelihoods.

While I haven't done specific research on the matching policies surrounding the Federal government declaring grazing lands "protected" and restricting access or changing fees; I find the mere prospect of the Federal government having that authority absolutely terrifying. Think about it for a second. Imagine your livelihood is a business that requires some quantity of access to public land in order to succeed. And a little known Federal agency answerable to a little known Federal department that's collectively answerable to 100s of representatives from all 50 States has the authority to declare you no longer have said access, or to establish fees for said access. I don't care what kind of reasonable operation and timelines such an agency is supposed to adhere to on paper; in practice they are completely out of reach in terms of recourse and as history demonstrates - that invites incompetence, belligerence, and corruption.

I can't tell you whether or not the terms of the 1993 grazing restriction were reasonable. I know nothing about grazing and I simply don't have the time to do a large volume of research on the subject. But I can tell you that even if the terms were something Cliven Bundy could theoretically have followed, I respect and applaud him for refusing to do so on the grounds that he does not believe the Federal government should have this authority. There are far bigger issues at stake here than merely his business's economic capacity to soak up the costs. He and his family are heroes protecting the rights of all Americans from the growing tyranny of unaccountable, intrusive Federal bureaucrats.

Bleeding Nevada?

And that brings us to the key point of this post. I was thoroughly shocked when the Feds announced that they were backing off; I can't recall an incident of such civil disobedience success in modern history. Following this story in recent weeks, I expected another Kent State or Waco style bloodbath. Even though most of those who joined the Bundy family in protest have been very well-behaved and non-violent, in any protest there is at least one overzealous lunatic willing to escalate things. If the government had wanted an excuse to crack down using force, it would have found him; and a few hundred ranchers wouldn't have stood a chance.

I haven't heard any credible reports yet as to where the order to back off originated, and for this and other reasons it is difficult to determine exactly what prompted it. However, considering our Federal government's overall track record for avoiding violence at home and abroad, I don't buy that concern for human rights played a significant part. Rather, it seems whoever gave the order realized that the entire country was watching this very closely and had accurate information due to the diversification of sources with social media, and decided Cliven Bundy represents a number of bulls they don't want to taunt.

The most important of these is the festering nationwide discontent with Federal authority and disregard for its preservation, as evidenced by the country's defiant response to National Park closures and other antics during the shutdown last Fall. Well-regulated militias, just as the 2nd Amendment prescribes, started showing up at the Bundy Ranch ready to insure the safety of a free State from belligerent bureaucrats wielding unconstitutional authority - and they put to shame Statist stereotypes by being disciplined and not initiating aggression. A massacre of them might have ushered in significant unrest among politically similar elements in other parts of the country, and further forceful interventions would be disastrously unpopular and spell doom for any politician supporting them.

The second bull is that of the Mormon Church, which the Bundy family belongs to. I have always had a love-hate relationship with the political activities of this religious organization, being particularly not fond of their lobbying for apartheid for homosexuals. But I cannot deny that it is powerful and robustly and organized. Mitt Romney received as much as 95% of the Mormon vote in the 2012 Primaries, indicating that in political terms - if you massacre one Mormon rancher family, you might just end up having to massacre them all. To add evidence to back this claim, I will share that Edge of Chaos has been graced with a very intelligent Mormon patron in recent months. This man has educated me on the many libertarian leanings of his Church in line with its history, as well as explained that the issue of homosexual tolerance is quite divisive between older and younger members. I wouldn't say my wariness of the political power said esoteric organization wields is completely gone, but it seems safe to assume that a bloodbath at the Bundy Ranch may have been the catalyst to it shifting entirely into the anti-Federalist, libertarian camp - an event that would spell political catastrophe for Federalism.

By backing off, however, the Feds have driven a massive nail into the coffin of Federalism. They demonstrated that nullifying Federal overreach does not require anything resembling a national or even local majority. They showed every businessman, property owner, religious leader, and citizen in general that's tired of the arrogance and unaccountable belligerence of Federal bureaucrats that a tempered, well-publicized stand-off is enough to scare the Leviathan into minding its own business. They also demonstrated what interests to reach out to for help in such a stand-off, a very important factor in organizing any sort of resistance.

My prediction is that now we will see a profound nationwide escalation in instances of nullification of locally unpopular Federal policies; whether it's cannabis prohibition, homosexual marriage, abortion, immigration, or of course everyone's favorite - Obamacare. Various issues will be nullified in various States, of course, and some of it may yet turn violent because among anti-Federalists there are plenty of trigger-happy and paranoid neckbeards. But I believe the Bundys' victory this week will commence the era of open Federalism decline that I have been predicting for a couple of years. The Feds' announcing they will continue the legal fight after they demonstrated force was off the table was as laughable as it was satisfying.

I salute Cliven Bundy, his family, and everyone that stood with them. Their resolve and discipline makes them role-models for all Americans in general, and for seekers of political change in particular. Some of you readers that find yourselves facing off against Federal agents in a similar situation in the next several years; and I encourage you to remember that patience and austerity won this fight for the Bundys without a single shot being fired. The Federal government is a barking dog that has just demonstrated it CAN be too scared to bite; stare it down rather than swinging at it.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

I SUPPORT the McCutcheon Ruling; Bring On the Hatemail!

The bitching about the McCutcheon ruling on either side of the political spectrum is immeasurable, with hyperbole and exaggerated fear-mongering that make Rumsfeld's WMD speech AND Obama's gun control pitch seem believable and tame. But what I have yet to see is a morsel of evidence that this ruling will have negative outcomes, or more specifically evidence that campaign finance restrictions actually accomplish anything. I have searched far and wide for said evidence, and all I have found are mobs of politically ignorant people - both conservative and liberal - insisting emphatically that buying political influence is harmful and wrong. I agree completely. But insisting on the noble INTENT of these laws does NOT constitute evidence they actually succeed at curbing the buying of political influence, all the condescension and ridicule of those who simply believe the success is obvious notwithstanding. So-called "common sense" is not a reliable means of analysis when we are talking about a subject the overwhelming majority of people does not understand; it's ignorant mob rule, EXACTLY what the Constitution was written to keep out of power.

Reasonably speaking, people are free to do whatever we want by default, and whoever wants to restrict human behavior has the burden of proof in demonstrating the benefits of restrictions outweigh the costs. Despite being a self-admitted anarchist, I think MANY laws restricting human behavior are justified using this process. But placing that burden of proof on proponents of campaign finance restrictions, they come up empty-handed and resort to idealistic whining. This is precisely what Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion on the ruling; he sees no reason to believe campaign finance restrictions do anything to curb corruption. He's not saying corruption doesn't exist. He's not saying the intents of these laws aren't valid. He is saying the proponents have to demonstrate the laws work, and have failed to do so. I can't speak for Roberts, but I am quite open to being wrong on this. If you have a substantive counter-argument; I would love to hear it.

I do, however, see significant evidence that the unintended consequences of campaign finance restrictions actually create more vote-buying and oligarchy. Like all laws, these are far from airtight and only raise the costs of doing what they intend to stop rather than eliminating it - that's Political Science 101. Considering the laws are trying to limit the richest and most powerful people, it doesn't take a genius to realize that said people have both the incentive and the resources to pay the higher costs and find ways around them. The imbecilic claims of a select class of Occupy protesters notwithstanding, "the rich and elite" are not some unified class of people actively conspiring to enslave and impoverish everyone else. On the contrary, their primary political and economic competitors are EACH OTHER, and given free reign to compete they have a very difficult time maintaining any sort of collective agenda. This even holds true in extremely oligarchic societies that allege anti-competitive cultures, such as North Korea where Kim Jong Un recently executed his own uncle in a top-ranks power struggle. However, when the costs of competition are raised, as in the case of campaign finance restrictions, rich and powerful people have significantly more incentive to circumvent them by consolidating their resources behind special interest organizations that fund coalition candidates and proposals; culminating in an extremely polarized field with only 2 sides. While the US has always had a 2-party system, the eclipse of modern partisanship over other political divides such as regional and conservative vs liberal is unprecedented. Before the 1960s these were cross-cutting divides that made for a far more competitive political system, and campaign finance restrictions are a significant factor in that change.

The idea of each rich person or family financing their own candidate may seem far less aesthetically pleasing than a coalition doing so; but give this 30 seconds of rational thought and you realize that means a far wider and more diverse pool of major candidates. A greater number of financially viable candidates means more competition for votes and the support of average people, forcing politicians and their patron financiers to offer greater concessions and seek to represent more minority viewpoints to get ahead. There is even significant evidence that campaign spending has a point of diminishing returns; as we witnessed with Sheldon Adelson's individual funding of Newt Gingrich for President in 2012. Again, this means politicians have to bring something more to the table than just their campaign dollars - a requirement that is LONG overdue in high-profile US elections. This all materialized between our very eyes in the first post-Citizens United Presidential election in 2012; where the overabundance of Republican Primary candidates and their seemingly bottomless finance wells forced a drawn out battle and exposed most of them as blithering idiots and kooks. I, personally, can't wait to see said accountability swamp consume both parties in 2016, when there is no incumbent.

It is reasonable to speculate that establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle, especially entrenched party leaders, clearly see the abrupt end to their political careers in the elimination of campaign finance restrictions. But for the average person, this offers a glimmer of hope for a republic fractionated enough to actually respect minority interests and not perpetually force a choice between the lesser of two evils. If you are terrified by this ruling, it is because you are in a state of ignorance and being deceived by intentional fear-mongering disseminated by existing political interests for whom the ruling spells political doom. Politicians do not voluntarily work to insure their own transparency, and emphatic insistence on the noble intents of laws is usually a good indicator the laws are failing or even serve ulterior motives. The SCOTUS did a great job upholding the Constitution despite unpopularity, and mass ignorance on the subject does not make the ruling wrong. Throw away your naive faith in public hysteria equaling objective reality, get educated, and if after that you STILL believe campaign finance restrictions will reduce corruption - come talk to me.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Ah, So the US/EU/UN Were Just Waiting For the IMF Deal.... Figures

"You've seen a range of troops massing along that border under the guise of military exercises, but these are not what Russia would normally be doing. It may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that they've got additional plans. And, in either case, what we need right now to resolve and de-escalate the situation would be for Russia to move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government as well as the international community." -Barack Obama, March 28, 2014

What is this? President Milquetoast suddenly grew a set? Obama's position two weeks ago was to avoid publicly acknowledging that those "self-defense forces" in Crimea are just Russian troops without insignias and to limit his talk of repercussions to loose mentions of sanctions and isolation. Now he's directly calling Putin a liar, and demanding he move back troops on his own territory. Either Barack patched finally things up with Michelle regarding that Danish woman he was flirting with, got laid, and now feels like a badass; OR something has shifted significantly in the arena of international relations. Before we go there, let me point out a few other about-faces this week:

- The UN voted on Thursday to declare the Crimean Referendum illegitimate. It may seem purely symbolic and even insulting that an international body tells a specific disputed region whether their referendum counts, but regardless this is a colossal collective slap in Putin's face replacing the UN's attempts to pander and negotiate with him in previous weeks.

- Ukraine's interim government just replaced its Defense Minister. He was asked to resign and did so, acknowledging that his dovish policy of moving Ukrainian troops off Crimean bases and letting Russia take them was out of line with what most of Parliament and most of Ukraine wants. The new Defense Minister is a hard-ass that is calling for massive military build-up, volunteer corps, and foreign investment in weapons and Ukrainian defense. Whatever you think of this policy line, it seems to be far more consistent with the interim government - so why did they take a month to sack the guy that was out of line with it?

- Former Svoboda Party Parliamentarian turned Nationalist guerilla vigilante Oleksander Muzychko was shot dead in a firefight with Federal police earlier this week. While the accounts vary and I don't pretend to know which is accurate, there is no doubt in my mind this was an extra-judicial execution and NOT a botched arrest attempt. Not all Nationalist politicians are murderous psychopaths calling for genocide and apartheid; and as stupid and counter-productive as draconian border policies and one-language-only laws are - it's not safe to compare politicians that call for them to Hitler, Bandera, and so forth. In the weeks since the revolution; the interim coalition including the Nationalist Svoboda Party has been reasonably calling for unity rather than bickering over what language to print government documents in. Meanwhile, Muzychko and his splinter group of vigilante morons have been roaming around the countryside with rallying cries of "kill all the Kikes and Mascals [a Ukrainian slur for Russians]". This presented a huge political problem; as what can generously be called "journalists" from Putin's State-run media consistently reported on the actions of these lunatics, cherrypicking them as representatives of mainstream Ukrainian thought. Many of the imbecilic "tinfoil and chemtrails" alternative sources in the West even begun to republish those reports as legitimate. I'm certainly not going to shed a tear over the death of that anti-Semitic, Hitler-apologizing piece of shit, and we can talk about extrajudicial executions another time. The point here is that Muzychko was always a political nuisance and the interim government always had the capacity to take him out; why did they suddenly decide to do it now?

The answer to the 'why now?' regarding all these about-faces is very simple. The IMF and Ukraine's interim coalition finally reached a deal this week regarding an $18B loan for Ukraine to rebuild its economy, bring its exports up to EU health standards, and develop its national defense. I've been saying for weeks that one of the reasons the West backed Ukraine is need for a new borrower in their international Ponzi scheme known as the Troika. Sure, Ukraine will never be able to pay off these loans and will end up with economic and political devastation like Greece, Italy, and Cyrpus in a few years - but international bankers never think that far ahead. They can now sell Ukrainian debt futures to offset insolvency threats from similar toxic loans made to the above list of countries, and investors will be less spooked, bringing some temporary stability to the global economy. Holding off on actively defending Ukraine from Putin's aggression was likely little more than a bargaining chip to pressure the interim coalition into loan terms that favor the Troika, and once they agreed - the West promised to turn a blind eye to the extrajudicial execution of the guerilla leader and a coordinated defense effort.

If you're reading this and thinking I'm defending Putin or taking Russia's side in the conflict, you're merely choosing to interpret it that way because you want to. FUCK Putin. None of the West's dirty globalist banking antics justify his domestic repression of free speech, his military occupation of part of a foreign country, and his incessant and intelligence-insulting lies to everyone from his wife to the global community. Counter-aggression aimed at toppling that dictatorial piece of garbage is perfectly fine with me in a moral sense. It's just that Western governments are doing it for all the wrong reasons - reasons that will backfire in the next decade making a bad global economy worse.

There are no good guys. I continue to advocate a non-interventionist foreign policy, because this situation demonstrates for the millionth time that we can never trust our politicians to intervene in a way that actually serves our interests as citizens. But, at least this situation now stands before us crystal clear; and now that no one has any incentive left to pander to him - Putin's end is just around the corner one way or another.


Friday, March 21, 2014

This Week's Very Obvious Mediacrity Award

I know I haven't lived up to my own standards of consistency with the Mediacrity awards in recent weeks, but this one was just too good to pass up.

Firstly, from the bottom of my heart - GOOD RIDDANCE. He was a despicable, vile piece of human garbage and the world is a better place without him. Watching his band of inbred morons whine that the country "gleefully anticipated his death" is immeasurably satisfying, we're merely treating them the same way they've treated 1000s of innocent people for decades. If every remaining adult member of the WBC died a miserable, torturous death today; I would celebrate and relish in the disapproval of anyone insisting this is wrong. Bullies continue to hurt the innocent because a plurality of humanity lacks the resolve to use effective, neutralizing counter-aggression against them; often misled by a gross misunderstanding of the same gospel Phelps CLAIMED to preach.

But all that being said, I can't think of anyone more undeserving of the news coverage they've received. The coverage of Phelps' death is only reasonable considering the coverage of his life for decades, but the latter is what the media ought to be ashamed of. Without them making a national spectacle out of these degenerates' activities, they would have never risen above the status of a few dozen hicks stuck in the 18th century. I hate to acknowledge this but in a sick way, Phelps was brilliant. He knew exactly how to exploit the media's disturbing fascination with gratuitously offensive, mind-numbingly stupid behavior and turn his cult of socially incompetent waste into a national sensation. If ever there were a wake-up call for the US to re-think what we consider news, THIS pile of turd is the incarnation of it.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fred Phelps Is Dying: I Say We ALL Go Dance On His Grave

Let's take a pause from discussing the Cold War Epilogue circus unfolding in Eastern Europe to discuss an interesting and controversial event occurring here in the US. According to his estranged son, Fred Phelps - founder of the odious Westboro Baptist Church known for hate-spewing anti-gay protests and picketing military funerals - is on his deathbed. I've observed in the media an ongoing debate between various groups over how acceptable it is to celebrate such a man's death, and more specifically the moral implications of picketing his funeral in reprisal. While it's only marginally political, I feel strongly about this to offer my cold, calculating, empiricist outlook.

1. I don't care that they're anti-gay.

I respect people's right to view homosexuality as wrong. I disagree with them and think they are misled by superstition and a grossly literal misinterpretation of the Bible. But the whole beauty of this country is that everyone is entitled to their views, and you don't have to like someone if you don't want to.

2. I don't care that they're a hate group.

I fully agree with the 1st Amendment's protection of hate speech. I grew up in the USSR where, unbeknownst to most Americans, hate speech was in fact illegal - and the government perpetually abused this to squelch dissent while doing absolutely nothing to curb rampant discrimination against minorities of all sorts. Things don't have to be remotely that extreme for the costs to outweigh the benefits. Inbred idiots waving swastikas or "god hates fags" signs may be unpleasant to look at, but a government that has the capacity to silence you on the arbitrary distinction that your expression is offensive is INFINITELY more dangerous than such rejects could ever be.

3. It's just not OK to picket funerals for a cause; ANY cause.

A funeral is not for the dead person. It is a ritual of grief and condolence for the living, and desecrating such an event for the sake of a political agenda causes immeasurable psychological suffering and trauma in people who have done absolutely nothing to warrant it. While I concede on legally protected status, I must say I'm thoroughly disappointed that some crazed mourner at a picketed funeral hasn't yet flattened this band of rednecks with a monster truck or mowed them down with a machine gun. I'm not sure I wouldn't end up being that mourner if they showed up at a funeral for someone I loved; and personal vindication has little to do with it.

In light of these considerations, I firmly believe a constructive and effective response is for Fred Phelps' funeral to have the nastiest, most hateful protest America can muster; but a protest specifically aimed at his actions rather than his beliefs. Phelps will already be dead and hence indifferent. But the protest would cause pain and suffering for his despicable extended family and congregation, who will invariably continue his legacy of hurting people after he dies.

While such an action is unlikely to deter them from continuing this campaign, an action of turning the other cheek is not only equally unlikely to do so - it enables them. What a massive public display of disdain and disregard for these animals' well-being IS likely to do is deter others from joining them, or even perhaps persuade a few conflicted members to leave the congregation. In doing so, it is bringing this cancerous organization a significant step closer to extinction, reducing the total pain that has to be inflicted in the equation at their well-deserving expense.

To the naive who would claim this stance makes me no better than Phelps, I say you are objectively wrong. Unlike Phelps and his kin that inflict pain out of ideological superstition, I'm calling for a targeted infliction of pain on a band of bullies that has inflicted it on others with the distinct and rational objective of neutralizing them. A tempered, constructive disregard for the well-being of those who choose to cause others pain in an effort to neutralize their aggression is the basic and age-old stance of self-defense. There is 0 reason to believe that the ideal of a world without aggression is anything more than a rosey fantasy. Accepting humanity as it is and ignoring such childish hypotheticals, neutralizing aggression toward those that partake in it is absolutely the most effective and least aggressive method available.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

McCain Still Nursing His Cold War Hard-On

No McCain, you're still an idiot, just like you were in 2008. I understand that your constituents at Raytheon, Halliburton, and Lockheed Martin are drooling at the prospect of a building a new missile defense shield in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Georgia; but the 'Russia threat' you describe is about as credible as your pal Rep. Mike Rogers' fear-mongering that North Korea would attack us last year. Where is the North Korean attack, lying Neocon scum? Is it with Saddam Hussein's WMDs, perhaps?

Further, you're not really saying anything about Obama. "Re-assess the US-Russia relationship" and "stop being flexible toward Putin" may appeal to your senile and ever-shrinking support base that misses the Cold War as the period when they could still get functional hard-ons, but these are empty generalizations that anyone who doesn't already agree with you will see right through. For once, Obama actually has a reasonable assessment of the situation he's dealing with (arguably a first in his Presidency); he realizes that Putin cannot afford sanctions nor to occupy a foreign country. If he does it, he will be deposed internally in a matter of weeks. Remember how popular, effective, and economically viable our occupation of Iraq was? My evidence is the 70,000 person protest in Moscow today against the annexation of Crimea, vs a puny 5,000 person support rally. However, if we threaten Putin and start installing missiles around his borders, his media will spin this and actually tip that domestic balance in his favor.

It really is quite pathetic that your endangered wing of the GOP is still making Obama look competent 6 years into his Presidency. But rest assured, no significant mass of Americans is listening to you, and we 'damn libertarian kids' will deal with the Democrats once we've finished expelling you from OUR Republican Party. Put it away old man, it doesn't work.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cautious Credit for Obama (For Once)

My worst enemy wouldn't accuse me of being an Obama supporter, and all you need to do to see that is scroll down the blog. But being an empiricist that gives all politicians credit when they're effective - I have to say maybe his stance toward Putin isn't as counter-productive as I feared.

I've said from the start that Putin has nothing. His military is weak and ill-equipped and doesn't support him, his own people hate him, and his economy cannot sustain a conflict for any significant period of time. My concern was that Obama, as well as leaders of some of the EU countries, would buy into the lies he has thrown together to look powerful and intimidating and sign some sort of agreement for us to follow and for him to cheat on. It's not far-fetched at all. This was the imbecilic foreign policy of every President from Kennedy to Carter that kept the USSR alive for an unnecessary 30 years. But despite speculation about Obama/Merkel/Cameron/Hollande bending over for some ridiculous agreement like the one they signed with Iran, this hasn't happened.

They are refusing to either budge or attack, forcing Putin to back up his bluff which I reiterate he has no capacity to do. This is effective for a number of reasons. Occupations, even of somewhat friendly territories like the Crimea, are expensive - and Putin's economy is hanging by a thread despite his manufactured statistics, with all that Olympic debt not helping. Shitty economies are what gets already unpopular dictators lynched; we've seen this all over the world in the last 5 years. On top of this, any act of aggression (even verbal) by the West would instantly be cherrypicked and spun by his State-run media as a rallying cry for his own citizens. This method isn't overly effective in the modern era, especially with Russians who have 100 years of experience in not trusting their own media. But nevertheless the lack of aggression even takes away that opportunity, leaving Putin to flat out lie to his own people to continue to justify his actions. Even if the dreaded Crimea referendum happens and Crimeans 'vote' under the barrel of a gun to be annexed by Russia; it's becoming clear from the pro-Ukraine protests there that Putin will be unable to hold that region without a military occupation - forcing him toward more expensive and unpopular policies and bringing him closer to domestic revolution.

Long story short, the West has turned this into an endurance race which Putin simply does not have the resources to win. This "let them choke on their own incompetence" was Reagan's strategy and it brought down the USSR. It's effective, relatively inexpensive, and keeps the limited violence in the dictator's own front yard - way ahead of both Carter-style globalist pandering and Bush Jr-style belligerent dickwaving. I still dislike Obama for a LONG list of reasons, but I cautiously give him credit for his handling of this crisis so far. I refuse to be inconsistent with my policy analysis just for the sake of entertaining fans that hate Obama - if you want that, turn on Hannity.


Friday, March 7, 2014

This Week's Mediacrity Award Is Nowhere Funny....

Earlier this week, an EoC fan who is by far no stupid man asked Joe if we felt the global situation had become more serious and dangerous now that China had aligned with Russia. After doing a little research, we determined that our associate heard this on Sean Hannity; who simply LIED about it. Here's a direct quote from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang:

"China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations. At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue."

According to Sean Hannity, this constituted "China weighing in on Russia's behalf," leaving me to wonder who slipped sugar pills into Hannity's anti-psychotics bottle that morning.

This is by no means a laughing matter. Neocon pundits have jumped on this crisis like 12-y-o boys onto an unattended porn magazine; invoking every logical fallacy imaginable and flat out LYING in a desperate last ditch effort to revive the Cold War and post-9/11 hysteria by which Americans would surrender our civil liberties and hand over our economy to defense and security contractors.

I'm hardly happy with Obama's handling of the crisis. But the President's Carter-style naivete and incompetence in dealing with Putin does NOT validate the interventionist proposals of Romney and Palin. That false dichotomy completely ignores the inconvenient possibility that those proposals would have made this crisis even worse. Further, there is nothing "conservative" about these suggestions. Belligerent warmongering was the foreign policy of JFK, LBJ, Nixon, both Bushes, and Clinton - all Presidents that squandered resources and enabled our enemies. Eisenhower brought the USSR to the brink of ruin in the late 1950s by refusing to make deals and letting Moscow choke on its own incompetence; and Reagan - who spins in his grave every time Hannity compares Romney to him - finished that job by returning to that policy 30 years later.

Unlike Hannity's "evil commies" fantasy, China's neutrality makes perfect sense. It has sat on the sidelines of every crisis in the last few years - Egypt, Libya, etc. - and then proceeded to roll in and establish economic ties with new governments where old ones had fallen, welcomed as the only superpower that hadn't pissed everyone off by meddling. It clearly intends to do the same with Russia, as it has crucial ties with powerful regional capitals Vladivostok and Novosibirsk; both of whom are simply dying to buck Moscow and establish independence. This neutrality for economic gain is a Jeffersonian principle, BTW, and watching the Chinese government use it better than modern Republicans or Democrats is downright disgusting.

So to summarize, there is no reason to lose sleep over a looming WWIII against a China-Russia Axis; or to sign over our lives and bank accounts to the military contractors holding the Neocons' leashes. There is, however, a need for Republicans and conservative independents to get educated on history, and vote in their Primaries this year and in 2016 against any politician presenting these fabricated threats as grounds for policy. We need to replace the globalist hippies in power with actual limited government thinkers, NOT with belligerent pseudo-Democrats.

And Hannity, put a cork in it.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Crimea Crisis - Welcome To Global De-Federation?

If the people in the Crimea genuinely want to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, then I say that's what they should do - it's not up to the Russian, Ukrainian, EU, or US governments. The problem is that no government nor media on any side of the equation is actually interested in the facts of the situation.

The current "Crimean Parliament" is a band of hired thugs that forcibly expelled the elected Crimean Parliament two weeks ago and that will vote whichever way Putin tells them; their decisions aren't worth what my cat leaves in his litter box. All the Western media reported this forcible takeover of the Crimean Parliament as shocking when it happened, now they're reporting on the votes of the "Crimean Parliament" as if they're legitimate. WTF? That expelled elected Parliament was moderately pro-Russian as well, but they were way too reasonable and responsive to the needs of their own constituency for Putin's liking - they would NEVER have allowed a Russian military invasion that claims to be a domestic militia. In light of that, I'm not convinced the majority of Crimeans actually want to join Russia. Putin's propaganda mills say they do, but these also insists the troops in the Crimea are "Ukrainian defense militia" as opposed to a Russian invasion - their claims are equally not worth cat droppings. The protests and marches indicate the existence of a pro-Russia sentiment, but to determine actual majorities requires polls and statistical research which are made impossible by the presence and intimidation of this same "mysterious" force. See how convenient that is?

A reasonable diplomatic solution for the West is to ostensibly refuse to allow Putin's lies to be treated as reality, impose massive sanctions, and not budge. It's an economic war of attrition and the EU has far more capacity to endure it than the isolated and underdeveloped Russia. Putin is unpopular to start with and his people have no democratic way to get rid of him - give them a little more incentive to lynch him and they will do just that, with the ensuing division of the Russian Federation being quite beneficial for their competitors the EU long term. However, I see that the EU will continue to take Putin's bluffs seriously in fear of the short-term fallout on their own shaky economic structure. Cyprus, Greece and Italy are still there and it wouldn't take much for their economic patches to come off. As a result, they may try to decide the Ukraine's and Crimea's fates in a 'compromise' without the consent of the actual people there.

In this age of decentralized communication, such 'compromises' between superpowers usher in populist chaos on the ground where no one with a claim and a foreign curator can garner a critical mass of support - see Libya, Syria, CAR, Yemen, the Sudans, Egypt, Venezuela, Thailand, you get the point. Besides contributing to human rights abuses and economic instability, these crises also drain the resources and political credibility of foreign curator governments as they try to support their respective criminal puppets and install them as dictators. The size, relative transparency, and most importantly location of Ukraine will make this effect far more profound there than in the other countries on that list; spelling political disaster at home for the superpower governments. For the EU, this will mean electoral mutinies in the upcoming referendums by which sub-countries like Catalonia and Scotland secede from EU member States and compromise its foundation. For Russia it will mean old-fashioned popular riots that depose and violently dispose of the criminal KGB government. Despite what Putin's pet media claims, the millions in protest of his return to the Presidency in 2012 demonstrated that nobody likes him - a worsening of the political and economic situation will push that sentiment to critical mass.

I stick to my prediction that Putin's days are numbered regardless of what happens, and it seems he might take the multi-national Ponzi Scheme known as the EU with him by virtue of their proneness to cowardice - which only makes me happier. The US would be wise to return to our pre-WWI roots and maintain neutrality. There are no good guys and we should let the crooks and murderers eat each other, or we shall go down with them.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Putin's Laughable Game Of Chicken

 Perhaps it's my own Russian heritage coupled with my specialization in International Relations, but as the entire world deludes itself that we are on the cusp of WWIII and makes diverse but equally unfounded outcome predictions - all I can do as I look at the 'escalating' situation in Ukraine is laugh hysterically.

What kind of superpower "invades" a neighboring country with troops wearing unmarked uniforms? This seems scary because it's so bizarre, but give it 30 seconds of thought and the most obvious answer materializes as 'a fake one'. Both the use of covert warfare and crony guerillas is nothing new - the USA and the USSR did this perpetually throughout the Cold War and it remains common in the modern age. But the whole point of such operations is secrecy because whoever ordered them is either scared to attack openly or realizes this will cause domestic political disaster. Further, such deployments tend to be limited and operate on intimidation rather than actual use of force - so as to avoid exposition.

Now let's examine Putin's strategy from this perspective. His pet domestic media sounds on par with Alex Jones as it flat out lies that the unmarked military are "Ukrainian defense militia" and that they're taking over Ukrainian military bases in the Crimea. He clearly hopes to provoke violence against this force and perhaps against the plurality of pro-Russian citizens in Crimea, so he will have an excuse to march them further into Ukraine pretending they're domestic militia with seized weapons and perhaps reinforce them with marked military. However, the entire world realizes those unmarked soldiers are Russian military; even including Putin's own citizens as 60 protesters were arrested today for a "stay out of the Crimea" demonstration. Russia is not the US and people don't protest for fun - this is a significant indicator of just how unpopular Putin's antics are in his own country. For this same reason, the mysterious armed force hasn't fired a single shot. If they did, they would be violating the Geneva Convention and despite Putin's insistence of equivalent force, NATO would be in control of Moscow within a few days. Going further, the pro-Ukraine minority in Crimea realizes this and is not intimidated, with military personnel refusing to leave their bases or fire the first shot. They're basically exchanging glances w/ the unmarked Russian invaders that say "yeah, our bosses are idiots, this is SO stupid". If Putin really had the muscle to take Ukraine by force, he would have done so already by invading it with marked, truly intimidating military. What he is opting for instead is a desperate and pathetically transparent bluff that is highly unlikely to yield him a desirable outcome.

While I don't have a specific prediction for how this situation will end, I can say with absolute certainty that it will NOT end well for Putin; and that it is likely to result in him being deposed or even dead at the hands of his own citizens. If we refuse to read into Putin's theatrical stunts and examine his capabilities objectively, he is not much more than a desperate tyrant on the verge of expiration trying to deceive the world that he's powerful; much like Ghadhafi or Mubarak in their final weeks.

And that brings me to every so-called conservative now beholden to Romney and McCain apologism trying to pull "I told you so" on Americans that ridiculed those candidates for Cold War thinking. I was one of those Americans, and unlike fickle Obama groupies some of whom are now having second thoughts; I stand adamantly by that ridicule. Blowing trillions on defense against a pretend superpower on the verge of collapse would not only be wasteful and stupid, it would actually enable that superpower as Putin's pet media could blame "escalating US aggression" and gain some credibility for him in Russia. As things stand now, a critical mass of his own people see him as a tired and incompetent dictator and are likely to dispose of him - making the world a safer and better place. That's what non-intervention does, and you Romney supporters are just as wrong on foreign policy as you were in 2012.